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OEXHI UNIVERSITY 


library 


DELHI UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 

Cl. No. 0 . jj-w-. PO 

Date of release for loan 

Ac. No. 1 

This book snould be returned on or before the date 


last stamped below. An overdue charge of one 
anna will be charged for each day the book is kept 
overtime. 




SHAKESPEARE PROBLEMS 

By A. W. POLLARD y J. DOVER WILSON 


SHAKESPEARE’S FIGHT WITH 
THE PIRATES AND THE 
PROBLEMS OF THE 
TRANSMISSION 
OF HIS TEXT 



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I'SHAKESPEARE’S FIGHT WITH THE 
PIRATES /AND THE PROBLEMS OF 
THE TRANSMISSION OF HIS TEXT.] 


BY 

ALFRED W. POIXARD 

SANDARS READER IN BIBLIOCRAI’HY 

1915 


SECOND EDI'IION, REVISED 
WITH AN INTRODUCTION 


CAMBRIDGE 
AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS 
1920 




CONTENTS 

PAGE 

INTRODUCTION vii 

THE REGULATi6n: oV'THE BOOK 
TRADE IN THE SIXTEENTH 
CENTURY 1 

AUTHORS, PLAYERS AND PIRATES 
IN SHAKESPEARE’S DAY ... 26 

THE MANUSCRIPTS OF SHAKE- 
SPEARE’S PLAYS 53 

THE IMPROVERS OF SHAKE- 
SPEARE Ki 

INDEX . . los 


«3 




Vll 


INTRODUCTION 

T he lectures here reprinted were delivered in 
November, 1915, in the University of Cam- 
bridge, under the terms of the Sandars Reader- 
ship in Bibliography. T'hcv were printed in successive 
numbers of TJi/’ Lihrarv in 1916, and published in 
book-form the following year. 'Flianks largely to a 
friendly controversy which followitd a generous 
review in the Littniry Supplement of The Times, the 
small first edition wasspeedily exhausted, and the book 
has been for some time out of print. That a new edition 
of it is offered here as the first volume of the series 
of monographs on Slu/kespeure Problems projected by 
Mr Dover Wilson and myself is due partly to my 
desire that the lectures should reappear under the 
auspices of the Press of the University which 
honoured me with the invitation to deliver them, 
partly to their forming the starting point from which 
most of the Problems with vvhich this series is con- 
cerned will be approached. I'he central idea of the 
lectures Is that the early editions upon which a text of 
Shakespeare’s plays must be built, arc a good deal 
closer to the original manuscripts from his pen than 
most ol the text-builders have allowed. In the sub- 
sequent volumes of this series Mr Dover Wilson and 
I hope to show that because the text-builders have 
underrated their sources they have neglected many of 
the clues which these offer, and that the clues' lead to 
very interesting results, also that the futility of many 
of the ‘conjectural emendations’ which overload the 



INTRODUCTION 


viii 

Variorum editions is amply accounted for by the 
neglect of their venturesome authors to take any 
account of the character of the hand in which the 
plays were written. In many respects, if we are to do 
better, we must make a fresh start. 

Some apology is perhaps needed for one who has 
already written, or helped in writing, four books on 
Shakespeare bibliography, now taking part in planning 
a new series of booklets on the same subject. The best 
plea in mitigation that can be olfered is that one bit of 
work has led to another, often with the help of an 
idea borrowed from a friend, and that in a research so 
largely new it is only by taking one step at a time that 
any sure progress can be made. One or two points 
have, I hope, been definitely cleared up and the eluci- 
dation of these has revealed pathways of advance 
which previously could hardly have been distin- 
guished. 

The first of these points is as to the editions of The 
Merchant of Tenice, Printed by J. Roberts, i6oo; yf 
Midsummer Night's Dreans, Printed by lames Roberts, 
i6oo; King Lear, Printed for Nathaniel Butter, 1608; 
and Henry K, Printed by ' 1 '. P., 1608. As long as 
these imprints and dates were accepted as correct, it 
was impossible to arrive at any sound conception of 
the Shakespeare Quartos as a class, or of the part 
played by James Roberts in their publication. 
Accident having brought under my notice, at an 
interval of three or four years, first a volume be- 
longing to Edward Gwynn (a seventeenth century 
collector) and then, in i gob, one owned by Mr Hussey, 
each containing these four plays with six others* 

^ The Whole Contention between the two Famous Houses^ 
Lancaster andYork^^Vxmied forT.P , n.d., in two parts, counting 



INTRODUCTION 


IX 


(three of them dated 1619) by or attributed to 
Shakespeare, I was led to look for traces of other 
volumes made up in the same way, and finding clear 
proof that Garrick and Capell* had both owned such 
volumes leapt at the conclusion that in 1619 
advantage was taken of the issue of reprints of The 
Merry Wives of Windsor, Pericles and the Yorkshire 
Tragedy^ to bind up with them the unsold stock of 
earlier editions. The theory was set forth in an article 
contributed to The Academy (2nd June, 1906) 
entitled Shakespeare in the Remainder Market. Two 
years later, I had the pleasure of printing in The 
Library (2nd Series, vol. ix. pp. 1 13-131) an article 
by Dr W. W. Greg, On Certain False Dates in 
Shakespearian Quartos., which drew attention to the 
“curious similarity of style in the various titlepages” 
of the plays in the volume of 1619 which I had 
supposed to have been made up of new editions and 
remainders, to the use in them of large numerals not 
elsewhere found before 1 61 o, and of devices followed 
by Roberts’ imprint which Roberts is not known to 
have used, also (and chiefly) to the evidence offered by 
the watermarks that “ the whole volume is printed on 
one mixed stock of paper,” which “could not have 
been the case if the individual plays had been printed 


as two: Pericles, Prince of Pyre, Printed for T. P., 1619; The 
first pan of the Life of SiryohnOld-castIe,PrintediorT. P., 1600; 
The Merry Wives of Windsor, Printed for Arthur Johnson, 
1619; A Torkshtrc Tragedte, Printed forT. P., 1619. 

* Later research suggests that the copies of the ten plays 
owned by Dr Farmer, the Duke of Roxburglie, Thomas Jeffer- 
son and T. P. Barton, had originally belonged to similar 
volumes. See A Census of ShakespeareQuanos, by H.C. Bartlett 
and A. W. Pollard, Yale University Press, 1916, Introduction, 
pp. xxvii sff. 



X 


INTRODUCTION 


at dilFereiit dates extending over a period of twenty 
years.” Dr Greg quite rightly deduced from this 
evidence that all the editions in the ‘Gwynn’ volume 
were printed together in 1619. He thus at a blow 
rid literary criticism and bibliography of the problems 
falsely raised by what had been taken to be duplicate 
editions of those of The Merchant of Venice and 
Midsummer Night’s Drram, rightly dated 1600, and 
of King Lear, rightly dated 1608. 

Dr Greg’s contention won considerable accept- 
ance, but the argument from non-occurrence used in 
the case of the large numerals and the devices is 
necessarily weak, while the proof (for such it was) 
from watermarks embedded in the backs of small 
quartos often tightly bound was not easily checked. 
The following year Mr William Jaggard helped, by 
showing in The Library (2nd Series, vol. ix. pp. 208- 
1 1) that his ancestor, both before and after 1619, was 
using papers with watermarks similar to those found 
in the plays in the Gwynn volume. In chapter iv. of 
my Shakespeare Folios and Quartos (written as an 
introduction to Messrs Methuen’s excellent series of 
facsimiles of the four Shakespeare Folios) I added 
arguments from the text-type used in The Merchant 
of Venice and other plays, from the spelling and other 
points. There was growing assent, but in The Library 
for January, 1910 (3rd Series, vol. i. pp. 36-45) in 
an article On the Supposed False Dates in certain 
Shakespeare Quartos, Mr Alfred Huth defended my 
original hypothesis of a ‘remainder volume’ as 
against Dr Greg’s of false dates with equal courtesy 
and skill, and though I bowled my hardest against 
him I am not .sure that any umpire, still less the 
average bookman, would have granted that I bowled 



INTRODUCTION 


XI 


him out. Before the year closed, however, Mr 
William Neidig, an instructor in the University of 
Wisconsin, in two articles in American reviews^ 
offered a physical proof which could not be gainsaid. 
Having first obtained exact photographic facsimiles 
of all the title-pages in question (photographing a 
millimetre rule along with each so as to enable its 
accuracy to be tested), 

“He then plotted out each title-page into little 
squares, and by this means convinced himself that the 
words ‘Written by W. Shakespeare,’ the ‘Heb 
Ddieu, Heb Ddim’ device, and the word ‘Printed’ 
in the title-page of ‘ Pericles’ dated 1619, and of the 
‘Merchant of Venice’ dated 1600, come in precisely 
the same places, and demonstrated this beyond possi- 
bility of cavil by a composite photograph in which the 
‘Merchant of Venice’ is superimposed on ‘Pericles,’ 
and the words in question come out quite sharply, and 
the device with only the very slightest blur, showing 
that the block may have been shifted a fraction of a 
millimetre. The occurrence in both title-pages of an 
identical flaw of one kind in the W of ‘Written’ and 
of another kind in the W of Shakespeare’s initial, 
completes the proof that this portion of the title-page 
of ‘ Pericles ’ had been used again in the title-page of 
the ‘Merchant of Venice’ and thus offered a pretty 
demonstration of the impossibility of their having been 
separated by an interval of nineteen years. Mr Neidig 
thinks that the trouble-saving printer ‘lifted off the 
lower portion’ of one title-page for use in another. It 

^ Modern Philology, October, 1910 (pp. 1-19, ‘The 
Shakespeare Quartos of 1619’), and The Century Magazine, 
October, 1910 (pp. 912-919, ‘False Dates on Shakespeare 
Quartos ’). 



xii INTRODUCTION 

seems to me more probable that he picked out 
all the rest of the contents of the forme, rather 
than risked dropping out letters by transferring 
the old matter to a new one; but that the same 
type-letters in the same setting-up were used in the 
‘Yorkshire Tragedy’ of 1619, ‘Pericles’ of 1619, 
‘Merchant of Venice’ of 1600, and ‘Merry Wives’ 
of 1619, he has proved up to the hilt; ana I think 
that henceforth any bookseller who sells the T600’ 
‘ Merchant of Venice ’ as printed in that year, will be 
liable to have it returned*.” 

Possibly because of the hint in this last paragraph, 
the editions in question are now, I believe, always 
sold with a mention of the spuriousness of their dates, 
so that at least this one problem may be considered 
definitely settled. To the literary student the most 
important result is the disappearance of all theories as 
to the true and false editions bearing the same dates 
being printed from different manuscripts, and also of 
the contention, which had been generally accepted, 
that the falsely dated Merchant of Venice was the true 

* From my review of Mr Neidig’s articles in The Library 
(3rd Series, vol. ii. pp. 101-107) for January, 1911. In the 
same review 1 mentioned 3 curious fact, to which ray attention 
had first been called by Mr E. H, Dring, viz. that in copies 
of the falsely-dated issues the dates have sometimes been torn 
away in a manner which points to deliberate intent. This 
suggests that when Laurence Heyes reasserted his claim to 
his father's copyright at Stationers’ Hall, on 8th July, 1619, the 
false dates, having been adjudged spurious, were mutilated by 
way of penalty, enforced cither by the Company or by private 
agreement. While the volume may originally have been 
planned honestly, there seems little room for doubt that 
before it was completed a deliberate attempt had been made 
to ‘wangle’ the copyrights of the Merchant of Venice and 
Midsummer Night’s Dream. 



INTRODUCTION 


xiii 

‘first edition.’ To bibliographers, on the other hand, 
the chief gain was the solution of the difficulties ag to 
Roberts’ use of his types and the reversal ofthe current 
view of him as the most daring of the pirates who 
attacked the property of the plaj^ers. It became 
possible to understand his entries in the Stationers’ 
Register as ‘staying’ entries, made in the interests of 
the actors to render piracy more difficult, a role 
which accorded much better with his position as 
holder of a privilege for printing all play-bills than 
the predatory career usually assigned to him. 

Read by this new light on Roberts’ career, the 
entries in the Stationers’ Register become intelligible 
and there was the less reason to believe that the 
Company had grossly abused the powers entrusted to 
it to the detriment of authors. In writing my Shake- 
speare Folios andQuartos\n 1909 , 1 gave the Stationers 
credit for the moderate degree of honesty which 
succeeds in maintaining itself when times are not too 
hard, and the players for the moderate power of self- 
defence which, when one horse has been stolen from 
a stable in which others are still kept, sets about 
getting a new lock for the stable-door. As I then 
wrote ; 

“The theory that anyone could steal and print an 
Elizabethan play and obtain copyright in it by paying 
sixpence to the Stationers’ Company, to the exclusion 
of the author and his assigns, does not conflict with 
the official functions either of the Censors of the 
Press or of the Stationers’ Company. Neither the one 
nor the other were legally bound to show any con- 
sideration to authors. What the theory, when ex- 
tended to cover not an isolated instance but a whole 
series of depredations, conflicts with, is common 

b 



, INTRODUCTION 

sense and the English character. It is understood 
that in this happy land if various people did all 
the things they are legally entitled to do, the 
Constitution would be in a sad plight. But these 
mysterious possibilities remain unfulfilled, and while 
they are unfulfilled, no one troubles to obtain paper 
guarantees against them, with the result that future 
historians will perhaps gravely argue that of course 
they happened.” 

Historians of the drama had argued with great 
gravity that all the publishers of Shakespeare’s plays 
were thieves, and that the Stationers’ Company was 
always on the side of the thief. The main work of my 
Shakespeare Folios and Quartos was the demonstra- 
tion that the more charitable view (that while some 
publishers were thieves others were honest, and that 
the Stationers’ Company, as a body, when called on 
to lend its help to one side or the other, at least 
occasionally is found helping the right man) explains 
alike the reference to ‘stolne and surreptitious 
copies’ in the Address to the Reader in the f irst Folio 
and the entries in the Register much more successfully 
than the pessimism which had become traditional 
with the writers on Shakespeare’s text. When the 
available data were interpreted on these lines the early 
quartos fell into two groups: (i) of four bad texts to 
which alone the epithets ‘stolne and surreptitious’ 
properly applied, viz. Romeo and 'Juliet^ I597» 
Henry F-, 1600, The Merry Wives of Windsor^ 1602, 
and Hamlet^ 1^03, all entered irregularly on the 
Stationers’ Register or not at all, with Pericles^ 1 609, 
as a later instanceof a similar kind; and (ii) of fourteen 
(positively or comparatively) good texts, twelve of 
which were regularly entered on the Register, while 



INTRODUCTION 


XV 


of the other two one certainly [Romeo and Juliet^ 
1599) and the other probably [Loves Labors Lost) 
were printed to take the place of copies rightly called 
‘stolne and surreptitious.’ The chapters devoted to 
this topic in the Shakespeare Folios and Quartos book 
were written controversially and on some minor 
points did not make the best of their case. In the first 
and second of these Sandars Lectures, the argument 
is put as well as I can put it, and it has not yet been 
challenged. 

Between the writing of the Shakespeare Folios and 
Quartos of 1909 and the Sandars Lectures of 1915, 
a little book was published, Mr Percy Simpson’s 
Shakespearian Punctuation (Oxford, at the Clarendon 
Press, 1911, pp. 107, price 5r.j, which was a real 
inspiration to me, none the less so because I put my 
own interpretation on some of the facts which I owed 
to Mr Simpson. Mr Simpson’s main thesis was that 
the punctuation which is usually regarded as the 
weakest point in the printing of the Folio of 1623, is 
“on the whole soundand reasonable.” He asked “was 
there, or was there not, a system of punctuation 
which old printers used,” and proved conclusively 
that there was such a system and that numerous 
pointings in the First Folio which ignore our modern 
(not very successful) rules for applying a logically 
appropriate pointing to every grammatical construc- 
tion, when interpreted on the lines of the older 
system are strikingly justified. Something is said of 
Mr Simpson’s book in the fourth of these lectures, 
but before this was delivered I had already written 
more fully on the subject in the introduction to 7^ 
Shakespeare Quarto, the Tragedy of King Richard II, 
printed for the third time by Valentine Simmes in 



xvi INTRODUCTION 

1595^, in which I had more space at my disposal. To 
have enlarged what I wrote for my lecture would 
have destroyed its balance, and I may therefore be 
pardoned for quoting a few paragraphs from my 
Richard II introduction to illustrate the importance 
of the new light I owed to Mr Simpson in dealing 
with the Quartos, with which his own little book was 
not concerned. 

Mr Simpson’s two points as regards the old 
punctuation were (i) that “the earlier system was 
mainly rhythmical ” rather than logical, and (ii) that 
whereas “modern punctuation is uniform; the old 
punctuation was quite the reverse,” and that this 
‘flexible’ system of punctuation enabled poets to 
“ express subtle differences of tone.” Commenting 
on this, I wrote: 

“In plays, wherever punctuation becomes im- 
portant, it might perhaps best be called ‘dramatic.’ 
To get at its underlying principle we may go back 
to the lessons of the schoolroom in which I learnt 
that, when a comma stopped the way, I must pause 
while I could count one; when a semicolon, while I 
could count two; when a colon, three; when a 
full-stop, four. Educational formulas are long-lived, 
and it is possible that this simple rule of thumb, 
which made each stop simply and solely a measure 
of time, came down from Elizabethan days. It is 
certainly quite inapplicable to modern punctuation. 
Anyone who read aloud and marked his stops like 
this would risk having things thrown at him. In 
reading aloud we ignore many of the stops with which 

' Reproduced in f acsimiJe from the unique copy in the library 
of William Augustus White. With an introduction by Alfred 
W. Pollard. Bernard Quaritch, igi6. 



INTRODUCTION xviJ 

grammarians have taught printers to pepper our 
pages. The stops may sometimes save us from mis- 
taking the sense, but they give hardly any clue as to 
how a given passage should be ‘taken,’ and it is 
precisely this which the punctuation of the First 
Folio attempted to do — ^and, at least occasionally, 
did. 

“The strength of Mr Simpson’s treatise lies in 
his examples, and the example which effected 
my conversion was a line and a half from 
King Henry V (V. i. 49 sq.) spoken by Pistol 
as, in terror of Fluellen’s cudgel, he begins to 
eat the leek. In the Folio it is printed, quite 
shamelessly: 

By this Leekc, I will most horribly louenge 1 eate 

and eate I swearc. 

In the Globe Shakespeare there is a colon after 
‘reuenge’ and a comma after the second ‘eate’; but 
the Folio shows us Fluellen flourishing his cudgel, 
and how should Pistol stop while he might count 
three after ‘reuenge,’ or even one after ‘eate,’ when 
the slightest pause might bring the cudgel on his 
head? The absence of stops here can hardly be called 
rhythmical, but it is certainly dramatic, and it gives 
what is practically a stage direction, which is totally 
lackijig in the modern rendering. 

“While I was pondering this section chance 
brought to me, at second hand^, a delightful piece of 
Shakespearian punctuation of an opposite kind, in 
Mr Anstey’s Voces Populi. A Hyde Park orator is 

' In a quotation in the Rev, Cyril A. Alington’s A School- 
master's Apology (Longmans, 1914). 



xviii INTRODUCTION 

giving his views on ministerial shortcomings, and by 
printing his observations as; 

The present Government Har. The most Abandoned ! 
The most Degraded ! The most Cowardly ! The most 
Debased! The most Ber-lud-thirsty I Set. Of Sneakin’ 
Ruffians. That hever disgraced the Title. Of so-called 
Yumanity 

Mr Anstey not only tells us exactly what his orator 
said, but exactly how he said it. Here, in fact, we 
have the First Folio punctuation in a nut-shell, 
emphasis-capitals and all.” 

Mr Simpson had concerned himself only with the 
punctuation of the Folio. In my introduction to the 
facsimile of the newly identified quarto of Richard II 

I was trying to follow the transmission of the text of 
one of the ‘good’ Shakespeare Quartos from the time 
when the ink first dried on Shakespeare’s manuscript 
of it to the publication of the first Quarto in 1597 
and again on from that till the pages on which it is 
printed in the First Folio were finally printed off. I 
could not help believing that the punctuation, or lack 
of punctuation, in Pistol’s line and a half represented 
exactly how that line and a half was ‘taken’ when 
Henry F was performed at the Globe, and I did not 
doubt that it also represented exactly how the line and 
a half was written in Shakespeare’s original manuscript. 
Were there any passages in the first quarto of Richard 

II for which as much as this could be claimed.? 

In writing this last sentence, I have unconsciously 
allowed experience to modify my question. There was 
a brief excited moment duringwhich it took thelarger 
form, ‘Was the first Quarto of Richard II punctuated 
throughout like this’? I'o that an honest editor can 



INTRODUCTION 


XIX 


only return one answer; ‘ In any positive sense it was 
not.’ Negatively and defectively we may persuade 
ourselves that its light, inadequate punctuation corre- 
sponds roughly to what Shakespeare set down, but 
for pages at a time there is nothing on which we can 
put our finger and say ‘that punctuation must be 
Shakespeare’s.’ On the other hand, as regards the set 
speeches, and now and again elsewhere, the punctua- 
tion is distinctly dramatic and entitles us to believe 
that Shakespeare punctuated these portions of his 
manuscript with some care and that the Quarto repro- 
duces this punctuation with very much the same sub- 
stantial fidelity that itreproduces the words of thetext. 

“In the Cambridge edition, lines I. i. 92-100 are 
thus printed: 

Besides 1 say and will in battle prove, 

Or here or elsewhere to the furthest verge 
That ever was survey’d by English eye, 

That all the treasons for these eighteen years 95 

Complotted and contrived in this land 

Fetch from false Mowbray their first head and spring. 

Further i say, and further will maintain 

Upon his bad life to make all this good, 

That he did plot the Duke of Gloucester’s death... 

Plump at the end of 1 . q6, separating ‘treasons’ from 
its verb, the Quarto inserts a colon, and the line 
“Fetch from false Mowbray their first head and 
spring” comes rushing out after the pause with 
doubled effect. And at the end of this line, shade of 
Lindley Murray! there is no full stop — only a 
Comma; for Bolingbroke will not give Mowbray a 
chance to interrupt him, but dashes on with his 
second accusation, with only an imperceptible pause. 
In the earlier lines, on the other hand, when he is 



XX INTRODUCTION 

preparing the way for his rush, Bolingbroke’s 
measured tones are marked by two stops which the 
Cambridge editors omit, a comma after ‘say’ in 1 . 92, 
and another after ‘here’ in the next line. Grammati- 
cally a comma after ‘here’ should entail another after 
‘elsewhere,’ but dramatic punctuation sets no store 
on pairing its commas and usually omits either one or 
the other.” 

That the punctuation in this passage is no mere 
accident to which a fanciful interpretation has been 
assigned, may be shown by quoting another set speech 
from the same source. As a rule Richard is exhibited 
in the Quarto as a rapid speaker, seldom needing a 
heavier stop than a comma, and the contrast to his 
usual style which we find in hisdespondent speech, III. 
iii. 142-159, when he finds himself obliged to speak 
Bolingbroke fair is marked in the first Quarto by a 
punctuation obviously deliberate. In this text it reads; 
What muft the King do now.f' mu ft he fubmit.? 

The King fliall do it: muft he be depofdef 
The king ftiall be contented: muft he loofe 
The name of King? a Gods name let it go: 

He giue mv iewels for a fet of Beades: 

My gorgeous pallacc for a hermitage : 

My gay apparel for an almefmans gowne: 

My figurdc goblets for a dilh of wood: 

My feepter for a Palmers walking ftaffe: 

My fubiects for a paire of earned Saintes, 

And my large klngdomc for a little graue, 

A little little graue, an obfeure graue, 

Or He be buried in the Kings hie way, 

Some way of common trade, where fubiects feete 
May hourely trample on their foueraignes head; 

For on my heart they treade now whilft T Hue: 

And buried once, why not vpon my head ? 



INTRODUCTION 


XXI 


Here the Cambridge editors check the passion of 
the cry ‘a God’s name let it go’ by a comma after 
‘name’; substitute commas for colons at the end of 
the next five lines, and on the other hand put a semi- 
colon after ‘an obscure graue’ instead of a comma 
and again another semicolon instead of a colon after 
‘Hue.’ By these changes in the time in which the 
several sections of the speech are taken the whole 
passage is reduced, as far as the words allow, to a dull 
monotony. The punctuation of the first Quarto, on 
the other hand, accents the despondent slowness of 
the beginning, the swiftness of the cry of impatience 
and the pauses between the meditative lines in which 
Richard soothes himself with his fancies. Then at the 
idea of death it shows him swept away by a flood of 
self-pity, which will bear no stops heavier than 
commas till it slows down for the final reproach, and 
(after a long pause) the sombre sarcasm which succeeds 
it. No printer could have invented this exquisitely 
varied punctuation. Is there any room for doubt that 
it gives the lines as Shakespeare trained his fellows to 
deliver them? Is there any greater room for doubt 
that it gives us the lines as Shakespeare punctuated 
them himself as he wrote them down while he heard 
the accents in which Richard, as he conceived him, 
was to speak them? These colons and commas take us 
straight into the room in which Richard 11 was written 
and we look over Shakespeare’s shoulder as he penned 
it. 

When I wrote my Shakespeare Folios and Quartos^ 

I wrote as a bibliographer and a lover of logical 
economy impatient of hypotheses disproportionately 
large compared with the facts they were framed to 
explain, also as an optimist impatient of the pessimism 



xxii INTRODUCTION 

which represents human nature as worse than it is. 
For a quarter of a century my work had brought me 
into touch with printers and publishers and editors, 
and I stood up for my friends. I satisfied myself that 
most of the Quartos were not ‘stolne and surrep- 
titious,’ that the Folio editors made no use of the four 
that were, and that in other respects they did feirly 
well. I owe it to Mr Simpson’s little book and to 
Mr W. A. White who exhorted me to put all I could 
into the introduction to the facsimile of his newly- 
found Quarto^ that I woke up at last to the fact that I 
was playing for much higher stakes than I had in the 
least realized, that here was evidence which con- 
cerned not merely the good name of Roberts or 
Heminge and Condell, or Blount, but the whole 
problem of the transmission of Shakespeare’s text, 
with possibilities of finding ourselves in an actual 
contact with him of which I had previously not 
allowed myself to dream. My hopes rose higher when 
in gathering materials for my third Sandars lecture I 
found myself able to show (ij that many of Shake- 
speare’s plays were printed from prompt copies and 
( 2 ) that some plays by other writers which have come 
down to us in manuscript are autographs to which the 
prompter had added his notes. There was room, as I 
ought to have emphasized, for a copyist of almost 
photographic fidelity between the prompt copy and 
the printed texts, but a copyist making a copy for 
printing would surely have edited away the more 
obvious prompter’s notes. In any case the link I 
sought to establish holds fast to this extent that no one 
who knows the evidence can say it is impossible, or 

' Also to Miss Henrietta Bartlett who generously waived in 
my favour her claim as the discoverer to edit it herself. 



INTRODUCTION xxiii 

even very improbable, that some of the copy used in 
printing both the good Quartos and the Folios was 
actually in Shakespeare’s autograph. If we honestly 
admit this possibility it must alter our whole attitude 
to the extant texts. 

Shakespeare died in 1616, and out of the com- 
memoration, maimed by the occurrence of the 
tercentenary in the middle of the Great War, came 
Sir Edward Maunde Thompson’s book on Shake- 
speare's Handwriting (Oxford, at the Clarendon Press, 
1916) which showed by a masterly analysis that 
Shakespeare must have written a hand of the same 
Style as that found in the three pages of the extant 
manuscript of the play of Sir Thomas More (British 
Museum Harleian MS. 7368) in which More 
persuades the May-day rioters to submission. I 
believe myself that my old Chief’s full claim that 
those three pages are the work of Shakespeare and 
written by him with his own hand is well founded 
and will ultimately be accepted by all competent 
judges, as it has been already by the few who are 
familiar with the manuscript. It is proposed that one 
of the volumes of our Shakespeare Problems series 
should deal with this question. But splendid as is the 
hope of finding ourselves in acknowledged possession 
of three pages in Shakespeare’s amograph, the gain of 
having secured the guidance of a great expert in 
translating for us the six authentic signatures (written, 
one of them with obvious impatience, two with the 
uncertainty as to what they ought to do which comes 
over laymen when they have to sign important docu- 
ments in the presence of a lawyer, and three in sick- 
ness) into the hand in which the plays were written 
in the abounding vitality of the prime of life is 



xxiv INTRODUCTION 

potentially even greater. We now know at least 
approximately the rules to which the emendation of 
Shakespeare must conform if it is to be anything better 
than a game of literary guess-work. Ninety-nine 
per cent, of the shots which overcrowd the notes of 
the Variorum editions are shown to be altogether off 
the target, and the way is prepared for a saner class of 
emendations, wholesomely limited by the condition 
that in an Elizabethan English hand they must look 
sufficiently like what appears in the printed texts for 
it to be conceivable that a scribe or printer should 
have mistaken the one for the other. 

This willing submission to limitations recognized 
as the rules of what, being Englishmen, we shall 
probably call ‘the game,’ has a very important 
counterpart and also applies to other editings besides 
those which involve the substitution of one or more 
words for others. As an example of its extension we 
may take the line-arrangements, which should not 
lightly be altered unless we can see how and why the 
scribe or printer went wrong. Its counterpart lies in 
the necessity of refusing to be satisfied with merely 
setting right an obvious error until we have dis- 
covered what lies behind it. Faced with the double 
disarrangement of the lines in Theseus’ speech in the 
Midsummer Night's Dream (V. i. i-2o) here printed 
from Fisher’s Quarto of 1600, previous critics of 
Shakespeare’s text had contented themselves' with the 
easy task of rearranging as four the first three 
italicized lines in the passage as here printed, and the 
five and a quarter as six, in accordance with the 
slanting strokes here inserted; 

Htp. Tis strange, my Theseus, that these louersspeake of. 
The. More straunge then true. 1 neuer may beleeue 



INTRODUCTION 


XXV 


These antique fables, nor these Fairy toyes. 

Loucrs, and mad men haue such seething braines, 

Svch shaping phantasies, that apprehend j more, 

Then coole reason euer comprehends, j The lunatick 
The louer, and the Poet / are of imagination all compact, / 
One sees more deuils, then vast hell can holde : 

That is the mad man. The louer, all as frantick, 

Sees Helens beauty in a brow of v?!gypt. 

The Poets eye, m a fine frenzy, rolling, / doth glance 
From heaven to earth, from earth to heaven. / And as 
Imagination bodies forth j the formes of things 
Fnhnotene: the Poet! penne / turnes them to shapes. 

And gives to ayery nothing, j a locall habitation. 

And a name. / Such trickes hath strong imagination, 

That if it would but apprehend some ioy, 

It comprehends some bringer of that ioy. 

Or in the night, imagining some feare, 

How easie is a bush suppos’d a Bearef 

Mr Dover Wilson was not so easily contented. He 
could not believe that if the copy which the scribe or 
the printer had before him had arranged the lines 
correctly it would not have been faithfully followed. 
Nor did he rush at the explanation, too readily offered 
in such cases, that the printer had no copy before him, 
but was setting up his lines at the dictation of some 
extraordinarily leisured person who read out the text 
at the rate of a line a minute, the quickest jxjssible 
rate at which it could be set in type. He noticed that 
the lines here printed in roman letter are concerned 
only with lovers and madmen; those in italic not only 
with lunatics and lovers, but also with ‘the poet,’ and 
so reached the conclusion that the italicized lines 
were an afterthought, written, in such space as could 
be found, on the margin, and transferred thence to 
the text by a scribe or printer who had no instinct for 



XXVI 


INTRODUCTION 


dividing them rightly. Thus we can look over Shake- 
speare’s shoulder, not only when he is in the first hea^ 
of inspiration, but also when he is revising, though in 
truth in this case he seems to have been better 
inspired in his second thoughts than in his first. Such 
a nugget is not likely to be found very often, but to 
have lighted on even one of this size and quality must 
hearten any literary goldminer to seek for others. 

This series has been projected in the belief that 
what remains to be done is far more important than 
the little which has so far been accomplished. It is 
possible to distinguish already at least four different 
varieties of Shakespeare texts, each with its own 
special problems; 

(i) the four piracies, Romeo and Juliet (1597), 
Henry F (1600), The Merry Wives of Windsor 
(1602), Hamlet (1603), besides that of Pericles 
(1609) about which, to be frank, we at present have' 
made no special research-, 

(ii) the texts of Shakespeare’s journeyman’s days, 
notably those of Henry VI (all three parts) and 
Richard Ilf where he was working in collaboration 
with others, or revising their work, so that we are 
dealing with other problems besides those of his 
making; 

(iii) the texts for which we have both a ‘good’ 
Quarto and the Folio, and have to ascertain their 
relations; 

(iv) the texts of later plays for which we have only 
the Folio. 

Thanks to the constant kindness of the editor of 
The Literary Supplement of The Times, Mr Wilson 
and I have been able to put in print, at least in outline, 
a theory as to the four piracies, and I have myself 



INTRODUCTION xxvii 

dealt, even more sketchily, with the York and 
Lancaster Plays which form part of group (ii). In 
articles in The jfthenaeum^ Mr Wilson has written 
on the literary problems of Hamlet as well as in The 
Library on the more strictly bibliographical ones. We 
hope that volumes of the series will grow out of each 
of these preliminary handlings. For groups (iii) and 
(iv), we have at present but scanty materials, but we 
know already that there are plenty to be found. The 
printers of the Quartos, the editors of the Folio, have 
alike been blamed for doing so little to present 
Shakespeare’s plays in a worthy form, for not cor- 
recting obvious errors, for not even dividing the texts 
uniformly into Acts and Scenes. We should rather be 
thankful that these honest men were content with 
printing the copies from which they had to work 
with so little alteration. Where they have asserted 
themselves they have done real harm which can never 
be entirely righted. Their refusal to edit their material 
is always our gain. On almost every page of the 
Quartos and First F olio there is to be found some clue 
to the history of the text which the literary editors 
have either despised as beneath their notice or treated 
as an error introduced by the printers, without ever 
asking why or how the printers should have so 
mishandled straightforward copy, if it was straight- 
forward copy that they had before them. We hope by 
noting and classifying these clues — stage-directions 
which should have been re-written, line-arrange- 
ments which should have been re-divided, strange 
spellings which should have been normalized, even 
misprints which should never have been made — to 
contribute something to the solution of problems 
which have already occupied the attention of scholars 



XXVIII 


INTRODUCTION 


and even of problems, of no less importance, which 
as yet have scarcely been raised. By dealing with them 
in separate booklets we hope to continue to advance 
safely, step by step, and to use the experience gained 
from the proolems of one group in dealing with those 
of another. It is all pioneer work and we ask for the 
indulgence which pioneers may fairly claim and which 
up to the present we gratefully acknowledge has been 
most generously extended to us. 

AITRED W. POLLARD. 

5 Jpril, 1910 . 



THE REGULATION OF THE 
BOOK TRADE IN 
THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY 

L egal writers on English copyright have not 
shown much interest in the steps by which the 
conception of literary property was gradually 
built up, nor are any data easily accessible for com- 
paring the course of its development in England 
and foreign countries. The accident by which our 
first English printer was also an exceptionally pro- 
lific literary producer and possessed of considerable 
influence at Court might well have led to a very 
early recognition of an author’s rights to the fruits 
of his brain, had there been any competitor pos- 
sessed of sufficient capital to be a really formidable 
pirate. In Germany, Italy, and France literary work 
of a kind for which copyright could now be claimed 
accounted for 'only quite a small proportion of 
the output of the earliest presses. The demand in 
Germany was mainly for printed editions of the 
ponderous text books of the previous three centuries. 
Italy added to these an even greater appetite for the 
Latin classics. In France, more especially at Lyons, 
there was a healthy demand for works, both imagina- 
tive and didactic, in the vernacular. But Caxton’s 
fertility as a translator can hardly be paralleled in 
the fifteenth century, and this despite the fact that 
he came to the task late in life and burdened himself 
almost simultaneously with the cares of a printing- 

p. 


I 



2 REGULATION OF THE BOOK TRADE 

house. A single book from his press, the Chronicles 
of England^ which happens also to contain a long 
piece of original, or semi-original, writing probably 
from his pen, was reprinted by both Machlinia and 
(with additions) by the St Albans printer. His other 
works may have had a natural protection in the fact 
that, with so small a market as England then offered, 
to reprint one of them, with no hope of any help 
such as Caxton himself received from patrons, might 
have been but a risky adventure. In any case there 
was no general piratical attack on Caxton’s publica- 
tions, and thus the one English printer and man of 
letters who possessed the advantage of powerful 
friends at Court was never driven into a course of 
self-defence, which could hardly have failed to be 
helpful to all other honest men pursuing the same 
callings. 

About the time of Caxton’s death we begin to 
hear, first at Venice, afterwards in other Italian cities, 
and then, in the course of the next twenty years or 
so, in all the chief printing centres of Europe, of 
'Privileges, by which on the petition usually of a 
printer, sometimes of an author or editor, other 
printers were forbidden to reprint the privileged work 
^br a period of years, mostly ten, but sometimes not 
more than two. Of course, the prohibition was only 
effective within the dominion of the issuing authority; 
but the importation and sale of reprints were also 
forbidden, and there was a fine for every copy con- 
tumaciously produced, imported, or sold. Privileges 
were granted most frequently for works on the pro- 
duction of which it could be shown that a good deal 
of money had been spent, whether original or not; 
A striking instance of this is the privilege granted 



IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY 3 

by the Emperor for the Greek Testament edited by 
Erasmus and printed by Froben, a privilege which* 
probablv caused the otherwise unaccountable delay 
in publishing the New Testament in the Com- 
plutensian Polyglot for some years after it was printed, 
and this despite the fact that the Polyglot was pro- 
duced by a Cardinal and approved by the Pope. 

Grants of Privileges seem to entitle us to argue 
on the one hand that there was some practical danger 
of piracy, and on the other that there was no legal 
recognition of literary rights by appeal to which 
piracy could be defeated. The first appearance known 
to me of a privilege for an English printed book is 
on the Latin sermon preached by Richard Pace at 
St Paul’s Cathedral on the Peace between England 
and P' ranee. This was printed by Pynson, who 
finished it on 13th November, 1518, and stated at 
the end of the colophon that it was issued ‘cum 
priuilegio rege indulto ne quis hanc orationem intra 
biennium in regno Anglite imprimat aut alibi im- 
pressam et importatam in eodem regno Angliae 
vendat.’ For a sermon preached on a special occasion 
a privilege for two years was probably as good as one 
in perpetuity. In thoseattached to Horman’s Vulgar 'ta 
of 1519, and several later works from Pynson ’s press, 
no term is mentioned, the phrases used being simply 
‘cum priuilegio regis Henrici,’ or ‘cum priuilegio a 
rege indulto,’ or in English, ‘with priuilege to him 
granted by our souerayne lorde the king.’ 

The security bestowed on a book by the grant of 
a privilege was entirely reasonable, but the method 
of granting it was entirely bad. Every notice on a 
book that it was protected against piracy carried with 
it an implication that a bwk which possessed no 


I — 2 



4 REGULATION OF THE BOOK TRADE 

privilege might be pirated with impunity. If Caxton 
had been inspired to appeal to a Court of Equity 
when Machlinia reprinted the Chronicles of England^ 
on the principle that for every wrong there is a 
remedy he might have won his case, or rather, if we 
allow for the law’s delays jn Tudor times, it might 
have been decided in his favour many years after he 
and Machlinia were both dead and their estates had 
been swallowed up by the costs of the litigation. It is 
not certain that he would have won it, because before 
printing made it possible to put several hundred copies 
of a book on the market at the same time, an author’s 
‘rights’ had no pecuniary value apart from the gifts 
which he might receive in return for presentation 
copies. The gifts, being gifts, might very probably 
have been ignored by the Courts as uncertain and 
indeterminate, while the profits from a printed edition 
might have been looked on askance as something too 
new to be recognized. Legal decisions in the .second 
half of the eighteenth century established the doctrine 
that authors had always possessed a natural right to 
the fruits of their labour, but accompanied this 
declaration with the corollary that as soon as Parlia- 
ment legislated on the subject by the Copyright Act 
passed in 1709, the limited statutory rights then 
conferred took the place of the natural rights, and 
left them unenforceable'. It might well have been 

' This wa.s finally laid down by the House of Lords in the 
case of Millar v. Taylor in 1774. That the author had an 
exclusive right of first printing hii own work was decided by 
tlie opinions of eight judges to one, two other judges so 
qualifying their agreement as to make it worthless. The 
exclusive right of reprinting was decided by seven judges to 
four, the same majority declaring that the right was in per- 
petuity. That, on the other hand, the right was ‘impeached. 



IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY 5 

argued, that the Privileges granted to particular books 
from 1518 onwards had the same effect. 

It may naturally occur to us to ask by what power 
an English king, without consulting Parliament, 
could interfere by the advice of his Council, with 
such haphazard and essentially destructive bene- 
volence, with literary property. A full answer to 
this question would take us far beyond the widest 
limits of bibliography. A practical view of the matter 
is that what a King of F ranee or an Emperor could 
do a Tudor King of England would naturally assume 
that he could do also. In 1518, moreover, Luther 
had already started on his career as a Reformer, and 
this soon rendered almost inevitable the claim, which 
was gradually made all over Europe, that everything 
which concerned Printing must necessarily be under* 
Government control. In a proclamation, probably 
issued early in 1529 (Pynson’s bill for printing it was 
passed for payment on 6th March), we find a list 
of prohibited books. Another appeared in June, 1 53O; 
another on ist January, 1536. On i6th Novejnber, 
1538, there came yet another proclamation which, 
after a preamble beginning; ‘ The Kynges moste 
royall maiestie beinge enfourmed, that sundry con- 
tentious and sinyster opinyone[sj, haue by wronge 
tcachynge and naughtve printed bokes, encreaced and 
growen within this his realmc of Englandc,’ forbids 
the importation, sale, or publication, ‘without his 

restrained or taken away by the sc.itute of 8 Anne’ (the Act 
of 1709) and the author precluded from any remedy except 
on the foundation of that statute was decided in two sets of 
judgments by six judges to five. Sec the admirable account 
of the case in Mr Augustine Birrell’s Seven Lectures on the 
Law and History of Copyright in Books (Cassell and Co., 1899), 
especially pp, U4 sqq. 



6 REGULATION OF THE BOOK TRADE 

maiesties speciall licence,’ of any English books 
printed abroad, and then proceeds; 

Item that no personc or persons in this realme, shall 
from hensforth print any hokc in the englyshe tonge, onles 
vpon examination made by some of his gracis priu'e coun- 
sayle, or other suche as his highnes shall appoynte, they 
shall haue lyccncc SO to do, and yet so hauynge, not to put 
these wordes Cum priuilfgio regali, without addyng ad, 
imprimendum solum, and that the hole copie, or els at the 
least theffect of his licence and priuilege be therwith 
printed, and playnely declared and expressed in the 
Englyshe tonge vnderncth them. 

After this come special regulations as to printing 
the Scriptures, which need not here be rehearsed. 
The important point for us is that here we have the 
first of several enactments which forbade the printing 
of any book in English except after it had been 
examined by som^ (which implies two or more) of 
the Privy Council, ‘or other suche as his highnes 
shall appoynte.’ 

Incidentally we may note that while a licence to 
print and a privilege carrying with it protection 
against piratical competition ought to have been kept 
clearly distinct, the one word ‘priuilegium’ seems to 
have been used as a Latin equivalent for both, the 
reason being, I believe, that King Henry VIII, who 
re-wrote this clause with his own hand, was not in 
the least concerned at the moment with the com- 
mercial effect of ?lle pniclamation, but only with 
maintaining his own right of censorship. Every book, 
as 1 understand the proclamation, required a licence; 
but this licence was not to be paraded by the use of 
the words ‘Cum priuilegio regali,’ without these 
words being limited and restricted by the addition 



IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY 7 

‘ad imprimendum solum.’ These must therefore be 
construed ‘only for printing,’ i.e. they did not, unless 
this was expressly stated, confer the royal approbation 
and they did not in themselves prohibit piracy, though 
the ‘whole copy’ or ‘effect’ of the privilege, when it 
is printed as the Proclamation directs, probably always 
contains this prohibition. There is sufficient evidence 
that by the reign of Elizabeth the words ‘ad impri- 
mendum solum’ had come to be generally interpreted 
as equivalent to ‘for sole, or exclusive, printing.^ 
Whether or no they can legitimately bear this meaning 
in Tudor Latin, it seems quite clear from this Pro- 
clamation that this is not the meaning they were 
originally intended to bear. 

On oth July, 1546, there was issued another 
proclamation ‘to auoide and abolish suche englishe 
bookes as conteine pernicious and detestable errours 
and heresies’ which, while it suggests, as we can 
gather from other evidence, that the stringent regula- 
tions of its predecessor had been inoperative, is itself, 
as far as it relates to printing, framed on more 
reasonable lines. The clause concerning this reads: 

Moreoucr the kynges ni.iicsty stravglitly cluirgctli and 
commaundeth, vpon the peine aforesayde [i.e. imprison- 
ment and fine], that from henceforth no printer do print 
any maner of englishe boke, halet or playe, but lie put 
in his name to the same, with the name of thautour, and 
daye of the printe, and shall presente the fyrst ropye to 
the mayre of the towne where he dwelleth, and not to 
suffer any of the copies to go out of his handes within 
two dayes next following. 

Mayors being usually busy persons, with their own 
trades or crafts to attend to, it was distinctly hard on 
them to be saddled with the task of reading any book 



8 REGULATION OF THE BOOK TRADE 

printed in their town within eight and forty hours 
of the deposit of a copy. But as far as the printer was 
concerned, nothing could be more reasonable, and 
bibliographers and librarians might have blessed 
Henry VIII if he could have ensured that ‘every 
englishe boke, balet, or playe’ should bear the name 
of the author, the name of the printer, and the day 
on which it was completed. Unfortunately the pro- 
clamation came towards the very close of Henry 
VIII’s reign and had very little effect. 

Edward VI took up the subject, at the end of a 
querulous proclamation of 28th April, 1551, on the 
worst possible lines. 

And forbicause diuers Printer?, Bokeselcrs, and Plaiers 
of Enterludes, witlioul considt-racion or regards to the 
quiet of the rcalmc, do print, scl, .ind play whatsoeuer 
any light and phantastical hed listeth to inuent and deuisc, 
whereby many inconucnienccs hath, and d.tyly doth arise 
and follow, amonge the kinges maiesties louyng and faithful 
subiectes: His highnes therforc straightly ch.argeth and 
commaundeth that from lienccfurth, no printer or other 
person do print nor sel, within this Rcalme or any other 
liis maie.stis dominions, any matter in thenglish toKg, nor 
they nor any other person, do scl, or otherwise d-spose 
abrode any matter, printed in any forreyn dominion in 
thenglishe tongue, onlcs tlicsamc be firste allowed by his 
maicstie, or his priuie counsayl in writing signed with 
his maiesties most gratious hand or the handes of slxe of 
Ills savd priuie counsayl, vpon paync of Imprisonment, 
without bayle or mayneprice, and further fine at his 
maiesties plcasor. 

In the same way Queen Mary, in a proclamation of 
1 8th August, 1 53 3, soon after she came to the throne, 
after condemning the'pryntyngeof false fondebookes, 



IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY 9 

ballettes, rymes, and other lewde treatises in the 
englyshe tonge, concernynge doctryne in matters now 
in question and controuersye, touchynge the hyghe 
poyntes and misteries of christen religion, whiche 
boKes, ballettes, rymes and treatises are chiefly by 
the Prynters and Stacioners sette out to sale to her 
graces subiectes, of an euyll zeale, for lucre and 
couetous of vyle gaync,’ charged and commanded her 
subjects, not ‘to prynte any bookes, matter, ballet, 
ryme, interlude, procc-sse or treatysc nm to playe any 
ipterlude, except they haue her graces speciall licence 
in writynge for the same, vpon payne to incurre her 
highnesse indignation and displeasure.’ 

Probably, though it is not so stated, this ‘speciall 
licence in writynge’ was only required for books 
dealing with religious controversies. In two sub- 
sequent proclamation,s, of 13th June, 1555, and 6th 
June, 1558, heretical books were again condemned 
the second proclamation going so far as to declare 
that any one ‘foundc to haue any of the sayde 
wycked and seditious bokes. . .shall be reputed and 
taken for a rebell, and shall without delay be executed 
for that offence accordyng to thordre of marshall 
lawe.’ 

The importance of Mary’s reign for our purpose 
lies not in these proclamations, but in the grant of 
a Charter to the Stationers’ Company, which speedily 
raised it to great importance. But tor understanding 
the motives which dictated the grant of a Charter, 
the ferocious threat which we have just quoted is not 
without relevance. In normal times a Tudor monarch, 
desiring to increase his control over any trade, would 
have wrapped up his real purpose with professions of 
love and care for his subjects, or complimentary 



10 REGULATION OF THE BOOK TRADE 


remarks on the efficiency of English craftsmen, such 
as form the preamble of the Act of 1534, restricting, 
for ecclesiastical and political reasons, the importation 
of books from abroad. Hence, when we find the 
whole charter dominated by the idea of suppressing 
prohibited books, we might suspect that the initiative 
had come from tl'.e Stationers, who put forward the 
need for such an absolute control of the trade in 
order to persuade Philip and Mary to give them a 
monopoly. Dr Arber, though he did not advance 
this particular argument, was quite sure that the 
initiative came from the Stationers. Thus he wrote 
{Transcript^ vol. i. xxvi.): 

The origin and occasion of the Company of Stationers 
has been much misunderstood. It has been usually thought 
that King Philip and Queen Mary grouped the hitherto 
scattered Printers and Stationers into one Company and 
in I.ondon in order to exercise a more effectual control 
over all English printed books; whereas it was the printing 
f and publishing trade which h.td long been organized as a 
City Craft tliat sought tlic royal incorporation and the 
. civic livery for its own greater honour and importance. 

Dr Arber based this view on a statement by 
Christopher Barker in 1582, in which he makes him 
say that ‘the Qompany procured a charter,' and itali- 
cizes the word ‘procured.’ But the statement, as he 
quotes it on his next page, does not use the word 
‘procured.’ What Barker said is; ‘Moreover the 
printer and Stacioners of the same obteined a ch[art]re 
for a Corporacbn by reason of the disorder in 
pryntynge did so gnsitlie encrease, to the ende we 
might restrayne many euilles which would haue 
happened in the saide profession.’ Dr Arber con- 
tended that the disorders and evils were trade dis- 



IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY n 

orders and trade evils, but when Barker goes on to 
speak of avoiding ‘the disordered behauiour of 
prynters and suche troubles that might grow by 
printing,’ etc., we must surely interpret his language 
by the wording of the Charter itself, which says 
nothing about benefiting the trade, but bases the 
whole case for a charter on the need for dealing with 
prohibited books. Under normal circumstances, as 
we have said, the Charter might be interpreted by 
inversion. But Philip and Mary were already bitterly 
angry, and the fact that less than a year later they 
are found threatening to execute by martial law 
anyone possessing a heretical book explains the 
absence ofanysmooth phrases in the Charter of 1557. 
When they said that they were actuated by a desire 
to suppress (what they considered) bad books, they 
told the truth, and there is no need to go behind 
their own statement. 

That the initiative in the grant of a Charter came 
from the Crown is made more probable by the con- 
temporary enactments in Spain. According to Mr 
Barwick (‘Laws regulating Printing in Spain,’ 
Bibliographical Society's Transactions, iv. 48); 

In 1 5 154,.,. in order was is-^ued vestiug the lirensing 
power ill the Royal Council .ilonc. In 11158 Philip II 
forbad the sale of imported books before they were licensed, 
under penalty of de.ith and confiscation of property. 'Phis 
law was made retrospective and those already in stock were 
to be sent to the Council for approval, under penalty of 
transportation and confiscation. In this law is first 
Introduced the sy.stcm, that in the copy submitted to the 
Council, each page should be signed by one of its notaries, 
and the errata be entered at the end, the type was then 
corrected, and the printer was bound to return the signed 



12 REGULATION OF THE BOOK TRADE 


copy with one or two copies of the impression, and it was 
likewise ordered that the names of the author, printer and 
place of printing should be placed in the book. The penalty 
for any contravention was banishment and confiscation. 

Dr Arber would hardly have maintained that this 
enactment was prompted by love of the Spanish 
Stationers, and although Philip was not in England 
at the time that the Charter was granted to their 
English brethren, it seems probable that the under- 
lying motive was the same in each case. 

The Charter begins with a preamble as to the 
need of suppressing objectionable books, recites the 
names of the Master, Wardens, and Members of the 
Company, invests the Company with all the usual 
powers of a Corporation, such as suing in common, 
etc., prohibits any printing by anyone not a member 
of the Company, and gives to tlie Master and 
Wardens power of imprisonment, a right of search, 
etc, We shall have to say more about the Company 
later on. For the moment all that we are concerned 
with is the ease with which henceforth the Crown 
could control the whole printing trade. Henceforth 
every printer was known and under strict regulation, 
and a body of expert detectives was enlisted in the 
Government service, able to make a shrewd guess 
as to whence the type in which any pamphlet or 
bill was printed had been obtained, and with their 
own personal interest in helping to suppress any illicit 
work. 

When Elizabeth, the year after she came to 
the throne, issued the ‘Injunctions’ of 1559, the 
Stationers’ Company was still in its early days, and 
although reference is made to the Company in the 
fifty-first Injunction, which deals with books and 



IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY 13 

printing, the attitude taken up is still that of the 
earlier Proclamations. The Injunction reads: 

i;i. Item, because there is a great abuse in the Printers 
of bookes, which for couetousness cheefely, regard not 
what they print, so that they may haue gaine, whereby 
ariseth great disorder by publication of vnfruitefull, vaine, 
and infamous bookes and papers, the Queenes maiestie 
straitlye chargeth and commaundeth, that no manner of 
person shall print any manner of booke or paper, of what 
sort, nature or in what language soeuer it be, excepte the 
same bee firstc licensed by her Maiestie, by expresse wordes 
in writing, or by six of her priuie counsel: or be perused 
and licensed by the Archbishops of Canterburie and Yorkc, 
the Bishop of London, the Chauncelors of both Vniuer- 
sitics, the Bishop being Ordinarye and the Archdeacon 
also of the place, where any such shal be printed or by 
two of them, wherof the Ordinarie of the place to be 
alwayes one. And that the names of such as shall allowe 
the same to bee added in the end of eucry such worke, for 
a testimonie of the alowance thereof. And because many 
pamphelcts, playes and ballads, bee oftentimes printed, 
wherein regard wouldc bee had, that nothing therein 
should be either heretical, seditious, or vnseemely for 
Christian eares: licr IMaiestie likewise commaundeth, that 
no maner of person shall enterprise lo print any such 
excepte the same bee to him licensed by suchc her Maiesties 
Commissioners, or three of them, as be appointed in the 
Cittie of London, to hcare and determine diuers causes 
Lcclesiasticall, tending lo the execution of certain statutes, 
made the last Parliament for vniformitie of order in Religion. 
And if any shall sell or vtter any maner of bookes or papers, 
being not licensed, as is abouesayde: that the same partie 
shalbe punished by order of the saide Commissioners, as to 
thequalitie of the faultshalbethoughtmeete. Andtouching 
all other bookes of matters of religion, or pollicie, or 
goucrnancc, that hath bene printed eyther on this side 



14 REGULATION OF THE BOOK TRADE 

the Seas, or on the other side, because the diuersitie of 
them is great, and that there nedeth good consideration 
to be had of the particularities thereof, her Maiestie rc- 
ferreth the prohibition nr permission thereof, to the order 
whichehersaydeCommissionerswithin the Cittie of London 
shall take and notifie. Accordingto thewhiche,lierMaiestie 
straitly commaundeth all manor her suhiectes, and specially 
the Wardens and company of Stationers to he obedient. 

Prouided that these orders doe not extende to any 
prophane [i.e.classicaljaucthours, and works in any language 
that hath ben heretofore commonly receiued or allowed 
in any of the vniuersities or schoolcs, but the same may be 
printed and vsed as by good order they were accustomed. 

(B.M. C. 37. c. S3.) 
It seems not improbable that whoever drafted this 
Injunction was much better acquainted with Edward 
Vi’s Proclamation of 28th April, 1551, which has 
a similar mention of six Privy Councillors, or Mary’s 
of 1 8th August, 1553, which in like manner 
vituperates Printers and Stationers as being ‘of an 
euyll zeale for lucre and couetous of vyle gayne,’ 
than with the Charter recently granted to the 
Stationers, It is certainly noteworthy that by the 
inclusion among the licensing authorities of ‘the 
Bishop being Ordmaric and the Archdeacon also of 
the place, where any such shal be printed, or by two 
of them, whereof the Ordinarie of the place to be 
alwayes one,’ the writer of the Injunction clearly 
contemplated the existence of provincial presses, such 
as had come into being in the reign of Edward VI 
at Ipswich, Worcester, and Canterbury, whereas by 
the Charter granted to the London stationers pro- 
vincial printing had been absolutely suppressed. 

A still stronger argument that the draftsman of 
the fifty-first Injunction was ignorant that a much 



IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY 15 

better way of dealing with the book-trade had already 
been found may seem to be the fact that it was almost 
universally disregarded. This, however, seems to have 
been the fate of the similar provisions in the various 
proclamations of the three previous reigns, and we 
shall make a great mistake if we imagine that because 
they were thus disregarded they were therefore in- 
operative. Bread has to be won and the day’s work 
got through despite of risks, and just as French and 
Belgian peasants have dug their potatoes and collected 
their handful of sticks with shells falling on the other 
end of the field, so the Tudor printers and publishers 
took their risks, and seldom troubled to comply with 
impossible regulations, such as that requiring the 
signatures of six privy councillors to authorise the 
publication of a ballad. But the shells which an old 
woman disregards prove the existence of guns which 
may prevent the advance of an army, and throughout 
the reign of Elizabeth the control of the book trade 
by the ministers of the Crown was as nearly as 
possible complete. 

In 1566 an CIrder in Council repeated some of 
the provisions of the Injunction of 1559, and took 
power to call upon any printer to find security for 
his good behaviour. In 1572 the usefulness of the 
Stationers’ Company was proved by the success with 
which it hunted down the secret Puritan press which 
printed Cartwright’s Jdmonition to the Parliament., 
and it is noteworthy that throughout the rest of the 
reign of Elizabeth we hear of only two other secret 
presses of any importance, that in the Jesuit interest, 
which printed Campion’s Rationes decern in 1581, 
and the famous Marprelate Press, which defied the 
Government with some success in 1588-9. On the 



i6 REGULATION OF THE BOOK TRADE 


other hand, Elizabeth and her advisers made serious 
trouble for themselves by continuing" the bad practice 
of granting privileges not merely for individual 
books, but for whole classes of books. As early as 
1544, possibly to console them for dropping money 
over their Bibles, Grafton and Whitchurch had 
been granted such a privilege for printing service 
books. In 1552 T^'ottell was granted a similar 
privilege for law books, and in that and the following 
year John Day had received the valuable monopoly 
of the Catechism in English and ABC. In Elizabeth’s 
reign Thomas Marshc was granted exclusive rights 
in printing Latin books for use in schools, and 
Richard Watkins in English almanacs. As long as 
Archbishop Parker lived, the printing of English 
Bibles was kept in the hands of Richard Jugge (who, 
perhaps bj' the Archbishop’s orders, made scanty use 
of it), while, with equal suavity and firmness, Parker 
rendered wholly inoperative the privileges granted 
to Bodley and his friends for printing the Geneva 
version. But the breath was hardly out of Parker’s 
body when trouble began. For the first time we hear 
of a formal compliance with the Injunctions of 1559, 
and seven privy councillors (one more than was 
needed) licensed Christopher Barker, a protege of 
Sir Francis Walsingham’s, to print the Geneva Bible 
and New Testament. In 1577, moreover, after a 
pecuniary arrangement for the benefit of Sir Thomas 
Wilkes, a Privy Councillor of some importance, 
Barker was appointed Printer to the Queen, and 
received a monopoly for printing Bibles, service- 
books, statutes, proclamations, and all books ordered 
to be printed by the Queen or Parliament. 

The strife which followed the issue of this patent 



IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY 17 

lasted very nearly as long as the Trojan War, and 
the details of it are beside our purpose. It began with 
quarrels between Barker and the earlier patentees, 
some of whose privileges, notably those of Tottell 
for law printing, the new patent infringed. It speedily 
led to a much more serious struggle between the 
privileged and non-privileged printers, in which it is 
clear that popular sympathy was strongly on the side 
of the non-privileged, or the extraordinary boldness 
with which their leaders, Roger Ward and John 
Wolfe, defied Queen and Council, would have led 
to a very different result. The Council insisted on 
the Queen’s right to grant privileges being maintained, 
and maintained it was, though the Commissioners 
appointed to enquire into the trouble had mildly 
deprecated the use made of it. In other respects the 
malcontents secured notable gains. John Wolfe was 
bought off by being appointed City Printer. The 
privileged printers placed the right of reprinting 
many of their books in the hands of the Stationers’ 
Company, to be used to find work for the poorer 
printers. The Company itself passed an ordinance 
restricting the number of copies of which an edition 
might consist, so as to secure more work for com- 
positors, and also restricted the number of apprentices 
and forbade their employment on work which a 
journeyman of good character was ready to perform. 
Finally, the notorious ‘Newe Decrees of the Starre 
Chamber for order in Printing’ of 23rd June, 1586, 
though prejudice against the Star Chamber has caused 
them to be generally regarded as merely repressive, 
were assuredly at least partly inspired by an honest 
desire to find a remedy for these economic troubles, 
which were felt to be dangerous. 



1 8 REGULATION OF THE BOOK TRADE 

The key to the situation is supplied by the fact 
that the test-case of the struggle was the claim that 
anyone who pleased should be allowed to print the 
AB C with the Little Catechism^ a book for which 
there was a continual demand, which presented no 
difficulties, literary or typographical, for which, 
indeed, the poorest printing would suffice, and no 
author nor editor had to be paid. 'Ehc total number 
of men engaged in the printing trade at this time was 
less than twO hundred, but small as this number 
may seem, it was more than there was work for. 
The larger printers laid stress, and we must take due 
note of it, on the fact that unless they were secured 
against piracy, they could not afford to pay ‘a learned 
man’ to write or edit a book. The learned men 
naturally took their wares to the larger firms, who 
could both print better and pay better, and where, as* 
by now was mostly the case, a publisher intervened, 
he too would naturally take his books to the larger 
printers, who printed better, and could employ him 
to publish the books over which they, as printers, 
possessed rights. The remedy which the Star Chamber 
proposed, a reduction in the number of printing- 
presses, in so far as it was carried out, must have 
tended to put more work into the hands of any 
printer who possessed a press. An unused press was 
equally obnoxious to the wealthier members of the 
Stationers’ Company and the Government, for sooner 
or later it might be used to print either tht ABC or 
a more or less treasonable pamphlet. Even after the 
‘Newe Decrees’ of the Star Chamber a printer with 
a press and a handful of type, eager to make a bit of 
bread by using them, was a potential pirate. 

Having said something as to the part played by 



IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY 19 

the Privy Council in regulating the Printing trade, 
and as to the genesis of Pirates, a little must be added 
about the Stationers’ Company, which thus far we 
have considered only as the instrument of the Privy 
Council for the suppression of inconvenient literature. 
The Company claims to have been formed, out of 
two earlier ones, in 1404. At what date printers 
were first admitted to it is still doubtful. Caxton was 
a Mercer, and had no reason to become a Stationer, 
nor can we imagine that the Stationers would have 
welcomed very cordially the introducer of so formid- 
able an innovation as the new art of printing. As all, 
or nearly all, his contemporaries and immediate suc- 
cessors, Lettou, Machlinia, Wynkyn de Worde, 
Pynson and Eaques, possibly also Julian Notary, were 
foreigners, whatever prejudice e.xisted would not 
lightly die out. Possibly Peter Actors, though a 
native of Savoy, was admitted to the Company in 
virtue of his appointment as Stationer to the King, 
and when William Eaques succeeded Actors, though 
he called himself Printer, not Stationer, to the King, 
the Stationers may have accepted him also. Certainly 
Pynson, who succeeded Eaques as royal printer, seems 
to have been a member of the Company, since in his 
will he directs that John Snowe and Richard Withers 
‘shall serve their yeares at the assignment of my 
executrix. And at thende of their said yeres my said 
executrix to make them free of my craft.’ Wynkyn 
de Worde’s will explicitly speaks of his executor, John 
Bedill (or Byddell), as ‘ citizen &stacioner of London,’ 
and of the three overseers of the will, Henry Pepwell, 
John Gough and Robert Copland, as ‘Stacioners.’ 
Whether De Worde himself was a Stationer is less 
certain. The freedom with which he reprinted some 



20 REGULATION OF THE BOOK TRADE 

of Pynsoii’s books would have been reprehensible in 
a brother of the same company. 

Printers are to us so much more interesting than 
Stationers that we naturally give them precedence, 
but it is probable that as a class the Stationers were 
for many years the wealthier and more influential. 
It is certainly noteworthy that, according to Mr 
Duff’s extracts from the Lay Subsidy Rolls of 1523-4 
{The Library^ 2nd Series, ix. 257 sq.) one Stationer, 
John 'l averncr, was assessed at L307 as against De 
Worde’s ;^20i 1 ir. id'., and another, Richard Nele 
(who was transferred to the Ironmongers in 1525} 
at ^100 as against Pynson’s £< 30 . Thus, even in the 
first half of the sixteenth century, there is no reason 
to think that the Stationers would in any way have 
courted the Printers, and on the other hand members 
of other companies, for instance, Grafton who was 
a Grocer, Whitchurch who was a Haberdasher, and 
John Day who is said, until 1550 or thereabouts, to 
have been a Stringer, seem to have been able to 
exercise the craft of Printing without molestation 
from the Stationers. But be this as it may, at the 
time that the Company was granted its Charter 
almost all the practising printers had become members 
of it. Some of these may have rallied to it only in 
anticipation of that event; but on the other hand, 
throughout the ’forties in the lessened encroachment 
on other men’s ‘copies’ and in the beginning of 
joint-publication, as in the case of the Chaucer of 
[1545J in which four firms took part, we may 
perhaps trace the development of what may be called 
‘Company’ manners, 

• It seems clear that, although neither the injunc- 
tions of 1559 nor the Order in Council of 1566 



IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY 21 


authorized such a course, the Stationers’ Company 
from the outset, and for many years afterwards, acted 
as a licensing authority. The Company’s years ran 
from July to July, and under the first of them 
(1557-8), after it received a Charter, we find a 
rubric (Arber, i. 74): ‘The Entrynge of all such 
Copyes as be lycensed to be printed by the Master 
and Wardyns of the mystery ofstacioners as foloweth.’ 
In the next year ( 1558-9), which included the acces- 
sion of Elizabeth, itsabilityand willingness to exercise 
authority is shown hy the entries under another 
rubric; Tynes for defautes for Pryntynge withoute 
lycense.’ The printer of an unlicensed ballad was 
only fined fourpencc, and in the case of an unlicensed 
book twelvepence, but where the book was of a kind 
for which special authority would have been expected 
the fines are much heavier, no less a person than 
John Day being fined five shillings (equivalent in 
191 3 to nearly £2 and to about double that now) ‘for 
prynting of a boke without lycense called an Excelent 
treates made by Nosterdamus,’ and Richard Adams 
the same sum for printing ‘the Regester of all them 
that were burned,’ a very controversial topic in the 
early days ot the new reign. An even heavier punish- 
ment was inflicted on Richard Lant who had printed 
without licence an Epitaph of Queen Mary^ for of 
him it is recorded that he ‘was sent to warde,’ i.e. to 
the Company’s private prison. As a typical entry of 
this period, in the case of an obviously harmless book, 
we may cite one for 1559; 

Recevyd of John dayc for his lycense for the pryntynge 
of the governaunce of vertue the vj of august iiij'*- 

As an example of a specially authorized entry we 



22 REGULATION OF THE BOOK TRADE 

may take this of the year 1570-71, just before a 
break in the Company’s records; 

Rccevv'doi Rychnrd jonce for liislyccnsf for y® pryntinge 
of niorraf pfii-losiplic bv [i.e. authorised by] my lord 
of bondon. 

Save that ‘ Lycenced to’ was frequently substituted 
for ‘Rccevyd for his lycense for the printing of,’ this 
form continued in use till 1 5^8, and, in face of it, we 
must admit that the Company acted as a licensing 
authority for harmless books. According, however, 
to a note as to the former practice of licensing books 
made in 1636 by Sir John Lambe, on 30th June, 
1588, ‘the Archbishop gave power to Doctor Cosin, 
Doctor Stallard, Doctor Wood, master Hartwell, 
master Gravett, Master Crowley, master Cotton 
and master HutcVinson, or any one of tbem to license 
books to be printed-. Or any a of these following, 
master Judson, master Trippe, master Cole and 
master Dickens^.’ The appointment of a body of 
accessible licensers clearly superseded the informal 
licensing power which the Stationers themselves had 

r Arber, iii. 690. The note of Sir J. Lambe proceeds: ‘From 
ig” Elizabetlie till the Starrccharabcr Decree 28" Elizabethc, 
many were licensed by the master and Wardens, some few by 
the master Alone, and some by the Archbishop and more by 
the Bishop of London. The like was in the former parte of the 
Quene Ehrabeths time. They were made a corporation but by 
P. andM. Master Kingston, the now master, sayth that before 
the Decree the master and wardens licensed all, and that 
when they had any Divinity books ot muche importance they 
would take the advise of some 2 or 3 ministers of this townc,’ 
Lambe’s taking the date ‘iq" Elirabcthe’ as a starting point 
suggests that he was writing after glancing through the 
Stationers’ Rcgisteis, and that the gap in these from 1571 to 
1576 was already there. Neither his note nor Felix Kingston’s 
assertion has any independent authority, but taken together 
they give substantially the same account as that offered above. 



IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY 23 

previously exercised. Henceforth, though variants 
occur, the form of an entry on ist July, 1588; 

Thom;i.s Orwin. Entrcd to liim for his copie, A booke 
inti tied the complaint of tynte Alowed vnder Doctor 
Stallers liand a-s profitable to be printed vj**' 

(omitting the ‘as profitable to be printed’) became 
increasingly common, until gradually it ousted all 
others. After a time the Wardens to some extent 
recovered their old position as informal licensers, but 
the use of the form, ‘Entred for his copy,’ kept the 
two points involved in the entry (i) a record of per- 
mission to print, and (ii) a promise of protection 
from piracy, much better distinguished than in the 
older entries. 

If we take the two points just mentioned to 
represent the advance made in the economic position 
oifhelLn^'l^'booktrabe^lunng^fiesmeen^h century, 
this will at first sight seem very small, and smaller 
still if we look at it from the standpoint of an author. 
Until the doctrines of Luther began to spread to 
England, no permission to print was needed. Amid 
the religious and political upheaval which resulted 
from the new teaching the book trade suffered heavily, 
and doubtless its members ctmgratulated themselves 
in the year of the Armada on the comparative ease 
with which a licence could be procured for works 
which aroused no religious or political objection. The 
protection from piracy, though unless secured by a 
royal privilege it had no legal force, but rested solely 
on the private ordinances of the Stationers’ Company, 
was a real and obvious gain. Moreover, although the 
ordinances of the Stationers’ Company took no ac- 
count whatever of the rights of authors, it was a gain 



24 REGULATION OF THE BOOK TRADE 

.''to these as well as to printers and publishers. Next 
to being able to secure perpetual copyright in his 
writings for himself, the best thing that could happen 
to an author was to be able to sell his books to some- 
one else who could do so. The copyright which the 
Stationers’ Company conferred on the publisher who 
entered a book on its register, by increasing his 
prospect of profit made it possible to increase also 
the remuneration qf the author, nor was there such 
a total absence of competition between rival publishers 
as to oblige an author to accept whatever he was 
offered. Literary payments, being a new thing, could 
not be put on a reasonable footing all at once. By 
Milton’s day, though no change in the legal position 
had occurred, an author could secure by contract a 
promise of further payments for later editions. The 
Elizabethan custom transferred to the publisher the 
entire property in a book for a single payment, which 
the possibility of future editions would and could only 
slightly affect. T his was the publisher’s gain and the 
author’s loss, but for books of which only a single 
edition could be sold, there seems no reason to believe 
that the Elizabethan author obtained worse terms 
than he would at the present day. The worst payment 
which we hear of is the twenty-six copies of his book 
handed over to an obscure writer named Richard 
Robinson instead of cash; the best, the [,^o in money, 
with maintenance for himself, two servants, and their 
horses during nine months, which Dr Fulke received 
from George Bishop for his Confutation of the 
Rhemish Testament, fji is said to have been the 
market-price for a popular pamphlet, though Greene 
or Nash may have obtained double this. Even the 
doubled sum may seem very little. But parsons and 



IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY 25 

schoolmasters, even fellows of colleges, were ap- 
parently considered lucky in Elizabeth’s reign if they 
earned more than a year. These all pursued old 
established methods of earning a living. It is no 
matter for wonder if those who tried a newer path 
found it even stonier. Our only point is that, whether 
the payments were little or large, in cash, in board 
and lodging, or in books, the payment of authors had 
definitely become a trade custom by the end of the 
sixteenth century. We shall consider in another 
lecture how far these payments were made precarious 
by publishers obtaining security for themselves, ‘not- 
withstanding their first Coppies were purloyned from 
the true owner or imprinted without his leave.’ That 
they did this, is the accusation brought against the 
booksellers in the Schollers Purgatory by George 
Wither, whose persona! grievance was his failure to 
enforce an iniquitous grant he had obtained from 
James I, by which no one was to be able to buy a 
copy of The Psalms in Metre without also buying 
Wither’s Hymns. The grievance makes Wither a 
bad witness, but his charge has often been repeated, 
and we shall have to see what substance there is in 
it, more especially as regards the plays with which 
we are mainly concerned. 



26 


AUTHORS, PLAYERS, AND 
PIRATES IN 
SHAKESPEARE’S DAY 

I N writing on the Regulation of the Book I'rade 
in the Sixteenth Century I claimed that the in- 
formal copyright which the Stationers’ Company 
was able to secure to its members in the case of any 
book duly entered on its register, though it seems to 
us a poor substitute for a legal copyright vested in 
the author himself, distinctly increased the market 
value of the literary wares which an author might 
have to sell. The publisher, when he was protected 
from piracy, could afford to pay more than when he 
was not, and authorship became possible as a profes- 
sion as soon as printers began to respect each others’ 
rights. That the money received from booksellers 
was miserably small resulted not so much from their 
rapacity as from the smallness and poverty of the 
reading public. Moreover, whether little or much, 
it wasa new income. Beforethc invention ofprinting 
an author was entirely dependent upon patronage for 
his literary rewards. It took three centuries wholly 
to supersede patronage, and in Shakespeare’s day only 
about a third of the road had been travelled. The 
starveling author, Richard Robinson, whose account 
of his winnings Dr McKerrow unearthed some years 
ago, sold twenty-five of the twenty-six copies which 
his publisher gave him instead of cash, as a rule at a 
shilling apiece. Only once did he obtain as much as 
forty shillings for the lot. It was on the reward he 



AUTHORS IN SHAKESPEARE’S DAY 27 

obtained for the twenty-sixth copy, the one presented 
to the patron selected as dedicatee, that the success 
or failure of a book depended. Once the poor wretch 
flew too high, and making the Queen herself his 
victim, came oflr empty-handed. Once, on the other 
hand, he obtained no less than £2^ ^tid proudly 
records that for a whole year thereafter he was no 
burden to his friends. Next best to this came a reward 
of thirty shillings from Sir Henry Sidney, supple- 
mented by another ten from his son Philip. The gifts 
of other dedicatees were sometimes not more than a 
few shillings. 

The system of patronage, of which Richard 
Robinson was a product, retarded the development 
of authorship as a profession in two ways: directly, 
by encouraging publishers to give less money on 
the plea that the patron would make it up; indirectly, 
by so lowering the status of authors who tried to 
live by their pens that no one with any pretension to 
rank or fashion could take money for his writings. 
To escape any imputation of doing so, fashionable 
authors avoided print altogether, and circulated their 
writings among their friends in manuscript. It was 
this practice which encouraged piracy more than 
anything else. The relatives of Sir Philip Sidney 
Could not have pleaded that his estate was defrauded 
by his Apology for Poetry, or his Astrophel, or Arcadia, 
being printed by a publisher who had got hold of one 
of the manuscript copies. Under no circumstances 
would Philip Sidney, who, poor as he was, was a 
liberal patron of letters, have put himself on a level 
with those he patronized by taking money from a 
publisher. His relatives could only say that they 
objected, and in an ordinary court of law it is hard 



28 AUTHORS, PLAYERS, AND PIRATES 

to see how they could have obtained any redress. 
For here custom was all against them. If a medieval 
author circulated a book in manuscript he could not 
prevent other copies being made from it, though 
there may well have been cases in which it would 
have been thought shabby in an owner to permit this. 
Even the Elizabethan man of fashion who wrote out 
his poems for his friends had no remedy against 
copying in manuscript, and except on the ground of 
pecuniary damage, which a man of any distinction 
was debarred from pleading, it is bard to see how an 
Elizabethan judge could have ruled that to copy in 
manuscript was permissible, but to copy in print, not. 

Just because all matters connected with printing 
were under the almost absolute control of the Privy 
Council and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the 
Sidney family defeated the interfering publisher in 
every case; but the existence of a class of writers 
who neither did, nor could, take money for their 
books was none the less a great clog on the develop- 
ment of professional authorship, and introduced possi- 
bilities of genuine mistakes. We all know to what 
shifts Pope was reduced when he wanted the world 
to see what beautiful letters he was in the habit of 
writing to his friends, and recognized that literary 
etiquette, or perhaps we should say ‘decent feeling,’ 
forbade him to publish them himself. By device^ 
which soon became obvious, though their full ex- 
posure was reserved for literary antiquaries almost 
of our own day, he procured their publication by the 
notorious pirate, Edmund Curll, and thus^ though 
with much loss of credit, secured his object. In the 
sixteenth century any aristocratic author, or any 
author who wished to be thought equally scrupulous 



IN SHAKESPEARE’S DAY 29 

on what was then considered a point of honour, 
found himself debarred from publishing his poems or 
other contributions to the fashionable literature of 
the day by a convention of very much the same kind 
as Pope, in the case of his private letters, only sur- 
mounted by disgraceful intrigues. 

The preliminary matter of Barnabe Googe’s Eglogs 
and Epytaphes^ printed by Thomas Colwell for 
Raufe Newbery in 1 563, shows us one way in which 
an author’s pretty hesitations about committing his 
poems to print could be surmounted. In 15^*2, when 
Googe went on a visit to Spain, he left the manuscript 
of his verses in the keeping of a friend named Blunde- 
ston, who took on himself to send them to be printed, 
and explained at some length, both in verse and prose, 
how desire for his friend’s fame prompted him to do 
so. The author’s own story is given in his dedication : 
‘To the ryght worshipfull M. William Louelace, 
Esquier, Reader of Grayes Inne,’ in which he asserts 
that his sense of the grossness of his style and distrust 
of ‘scornefuil and carpynge Corrcctours’ caused him 
rather to condemn his poems to 

continuall darkcnes, whcrby no Inconuenience could 
happen ; than to endaunger my seife in gyuynge them to 
lyght, to the disdaynfull doome of any offended mynde. 
Notwithstandynge[,] all the dylygcnce that 1 couldc vse 
in the Suppression iherof coulde not suffise[,] for I my 
seife beyng at that tyme oute of the Realme, lytell fearynge 
any suche thynge to happen A verye Frende of myne, 
bearynge as it semed better wyll to my doynges than 
respectyng the hazarde of mv name, commytted them all 
togyther vnpolyshed to the handes of the Prynter. In 
whose handes durynge his absence from the Cytie, tyll his 
returne of late they remayned. At whiche tyme, he 



30 AUTHORS, PLAYERS, AND PIRATES 

declared the matter wholly vnto me; shewynge me that 
beynge so farre past, & Paper prouyded for the Impression 
therof; It coulde not withoute greate hynderaunce of the 
poore Printer be nowe reuokcd. His sodaync tale made 
me at y“ fyrst, vttcrly amazed, and doubting a great 
while, what was best to be done: at the Icngthc agreying 
both with Necessytie and his Counsel!, I sayde with 
Martiall I lam sed poteras tutior esse domi 

and allowed the printer to proceed. 

Googe’s account of what happened is probably 
very fairly true. Had he been lying, he would not 
have confessed that at the time of his return printing 
had not yet begun, with the implication that by 
merely compensating Colwell for his loss on reselling 
the paper or holding it till it could be used on some 
other book, he could have kept his poems in safe 
obscurity. It is interesting to note, though we need 
not lay stress on it, that he assumes that he could 
have recalled his manuscript, and have left the printer 
to bear such loss as might result. But it sufficed for 
him to make consideration for ‘the poore Printer’ 
his excuse for publication, and it may suffice for us 
to point out what a confusing element the existence 
of busybodies or enthusiasts like Googe’s friend 
Blundeston must have introduced into the book trade. 

Blundeston was a real person and a real friend 
of Googe’s, whether he played a friend’s part in this 
transaction or not. A generation later, however, it 
is hardly surprising that the genuine enthusiasts, of 
whom we may take him as a type, should be very 
difficult to distinguish on the one hand from such a 
shadowy scapegoat as the ‘some’ whom Wm Percy 
made responsible for the publication of his Sonnets 
to the fairest Coelia in 1594, and on the other hand 



IN SHAKESPEARE’S DAY 


31 

from such professional dealers in manuscripts as 
Thomas Thorpe and William Hall, as to whose 
doings Sir Sidney Lee has brought together so much 
useful information in his account of the publication 
of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. It will be useful to re- 
member that one of these began his career by 
procuring a manuscript of Marlowe’s (his translation 
of the first book of Lucan’s Pharsalia), and the other 
by getting hold of Robert Southwell’s A Foure-fould 
Meditation-, and that both Marlowe and Southwell 
were dead, and the works of one as a reputed atheist 
and of the other as a notorious Jesuit would be to 
an unusual extent at the disposal of anyone who had 
the courage to print them. On the other hand, 
Thorpe must have obtained Chapman’s consent to 
publishing two of his plays, his Byron and AH Foolsy 
as we find that to all copies of the first and to some 
of the second Chapman prefixed a dedication. It 
may be doubted indeed if it can be proved, even in 
the case of Thorpe or Hall, that they plied their 
trade without any respect to the pecuniary rights of 
living professional authors. It is possible, perhaps 
probable, that Shakespeare’s Sonnets were published 
by Thorpe in 1609 without his consent, and that 
he would have stopped their publication if he could. 
Into that thorny question we fortunately need not 
enter. But it is very much to our purpose to note 
that the Sonnets in 1609 had been in existence for 
some fifteen years, that Meres in his Palladis Tamia 
had commended them in print in 1 598, and that yet, 
with the exception of two printed in The Passionate 
Pilgrim the following year(i 599), no printer had been 
willing or able to appropriate them. They .may have 
been pirated at last, but they escaped for fifteen years. 



32 AUTHORS, PLAYERS, AND PIRATES 

It may be worth while here to quote from Nashe’s 
dedication of The Terrors of the Night to Mistres 
Elizabeth Carey his assertions as to its popularity in 
manuscript: 

As touching this short glosc or annotation on the foolish 
Terrors of the Night... A long time since hath it line 
suppressed by mec; vntill the vrgent importunitie of 
a kinde frend of mine (to whom I was sundrie waies 
beholding) wrested a Coppie from me. That Coppie pro- 
gressed from one scriueners shop to another, & at length 
grew so common, that it was readic to bee hung out for 
one of their signes, like a paire of indentures. Wherevppon 
I thought it as good for mee to reape the frute of my owne 
labours, as to let some vnskilfull pen-man or Nouerint- 
maker startch his ruffle & new spade his beard with the 
benefite he made of them. 

Although the booklet was being so repeatedly 
copied by different scriveners not only did none of 
them make a second copy and sell it to a printer, 
but Nashe does not seem even to have considered 
the possibility of this being done. It is solely the 
benefit or pay which the ‘vnskilfull pen-man’ might 
make by producing manuscript copies that he grudges 
him. Yet in 1 594 a pamphlet by Nashe had probably 
as high a selling value as any other book of the same 
length that was being put on the market. 

The point we are making is that the appropriation 
of literary rights without permission or payment 
which we call piracy, in so far as it can be proved, 
was largely concerned with the works of dead authors, 
or of men whose rank would have forbidden them 
to receive payment for their books. The talk about 
books being printed withoutleave is at least sometimes 
only doubtfully sincere. Men who were known to 



IN SHAKESPEARE’S DAY 


33 

be making a living from their pens seem to have 
suffered very little indeed from piracy, even when, 
as in the case of the book by Nashe just mentioned, 
they laid themselves easily open to attack. 

In this connection we shall do well to remember 
that there was no change in the law, or in the 
apparent, though not quite real, exclusion of authors 
from the benefit of such copyright as the Stationers’ 
Company could secure, for exactly a hundred years 
after the publication of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. In 
1624, in his Schollers Purgatory., George Wither 
wrote of the Stationers: 

Yea, by the lawes and Orders of their Corporation, they 
can and do setle vpon the particuler members thereof a 
p[e]rpetuall interest in such Bookes as are Registered by 
them at their Hall, in their several Names: and are secured 
in taking the full benefit of those books, better then any 
Author can be by virtue of the Kings Grant, notwith- 
standing their first Coppies were purloyned from the true 
owner, or imprinted without his leave. 

In whatever sense this assertion was true at the 
time when Wither made it, it was true also when 
Milton was able to make a formal contract securing 
him a share in the profits of more editions of Paradise 
Lost than were printed during his life, and when 
Dryden was able to support himoelf by his pen. Until 
the first Copyright Act was passed in 1 709 there was 
no change in the law. Whatever else that statute 
effected (and it might well be contended that it 
benefited the reading public at the expense of authors) 
it did not suppress piracy. It was in the year which 
preceded that Act that Edmund Curll’s name is first 
found on a title-page, and his notorious career 
extended for some thirty years after it became law. 


p. 


3 



34 AUTHORS, PLAYERS, AND PIRATES 

Y et, though accusations have been levelled at random 
against this or that Elizabethan printer or publisher, 
there is not one of them who, as a pirate, can be 
named in the same breath with Curll. 


Curll’s piracies did not prevent the position of 
authors from steadily improving during the eighteenth 
century. It cannot therefore be argued that the fact 
that the position of authors undoubtedly improved 
steadily during the life of Shakespeare proves that 
I there were no piracies in his day. It only proves that 
they were not on a scale to interfere with the steady 
development. Piracies there were, and two reasons 
have here been advanced to explain this much 
exaggerated but i/idubitable fact: (i) the presence in 
London of more printers than there was work for; 
(ii) the convention which forbade men of rank or 
fashion from circulating their poems or essays except 
in manuscript. The first of these sources of trouble 
was steadily kept in view by the Privy Council, 
whose interference, usually represented as purely 
repressive and tyrannical, was in part at least economic 
and (on the whole) beneficent. The second cause may 
be presumed to have been largely removed by the 
succession to the throne, in the person of James I, 
of ‘a prentice in the noble art of poetry’ who did 
not refrain from publication. Even while these two 
purely transitory causes were in full operation their 
effect on the English book-trade as a whole was 
insignificant. We have now to ask whether there 
were any circumstances peculiar to one branch of the 
book-trade, that concerned with the publication of 
plays, which should incline us to believe that it was 
specially open to attack, and what positive evidence 
can be found of the attacks having Seen successful. 



IN SHAKESPEARE’S DAY 35 

During the middle years of the sixteenth century, 
when the ecclesiastical future of England was stdl 
uncertain, the acting of interludes supporting more 
or less blatantly either the Roman or the Protestant 
side seems to have greatly annoyed successive Tudor 
governments. Elizabeth dealt with the nuisance by 
an Act declaring all players of interludes to be rogues 
and vagabonds and liable to the unpleasant penalties 
provided for these poor folk, unless formed into 
companies under the protection of a Privy Councillor, 
who would be answerable for their good behaviour. 
As the business community became more and more 
strongly addicted to Puritanism, the rulers of the 
City ot London would gladly have prohibited stage 
plays altogether. Elizabeth, however, as well as her 
successors, happened to be very fond of these per- 
formances, and on the plea that they must be given 
opportunities to develop their skill for exhibition at 
Court, the players were generally protected, although 
all performances were forbidden during visitations of 
the plague for fear of infection, and at other times 
increase of Puritan pressure might restrict the number 
of them. 

The fact that one company of players was under 
the protection of the Lord High Admiral, and 
another of the Lord Chamberlain, and that these 
were two of the most important members of the 
Privy Council, which, as we have seen, exercised 
supreme authority over printers and printing, suggests 
at first that these companies must have had complete 
protection against interference on the part of pirates. 
It was the companies with which the pirates would 
have had to deal, as during the reign of Elizabeth it 
is certain that the dramatists sold their complete 


3—2 



36 AUTHORS, PLAYERS, AND PIRATES 

rights to the company which was to act the play, so 
that it would be the company, not the author, that 
would be injured by a piracy. That a company with 
the Lord Chamberlain or the Lord High Admiral 
as its protector should have submitted to any syste- 
matic robbery is in the highest degree unlikely. On 
the other hand, the hostility of the City and occasional 
trouble at Court rendered the position of the players 
always more or less precarious, and to trouble a great 
lord over a small matter when they might need his 
help in a much' more important one would not have 
been wise. Hence we need not be surprised if we 
find a company submitting to occasional loss rather 
than trouble their protector, as long as the loss does 
not become too frequent. The market price for a 
pamphlet towards the end of the sixteenth century 
seems to have been forty shillings, though the most 
popular writers obtained more. 'Fhe selling value of 
a play must have been much the same as that of a 
pamphlet. A few when printed went through half 
a dozen or more editions; many of those we think 
the best were never reprinted at all, or not in the 
popular quarto form. To go to the Lord Chamberlain 
over the loss of a forty-shilling fee for the printing 
rights in a play would hardly have been good 
business. 

On the other hand, if we are tempted to extend 
this argument to the point of agreeing with the con- 
tention that it could never have been worth while for 
a company to permit its plays to be printed, we must 
remember that the total sum paid to an author by 
the company was itself only small, ranging as a rule 
from ;^6 to £\0 in the latter years of Elizabeth, 
though as much as £20 seems occasionally to have 



IN SHAKESPEARE’S DAY 


37 

been paid, and during the next decade may not have 
been an unusual fee. To recover from a publisher 
twenty or even ten per cent, of the original price 
paid for a play cannot have been a matter of indif- 
ference, and although at the outset of a play’s run 
it would probably have been bad policy to allow it 
to be printed for any fee a publisher could have 
afforded to pay, there must have come a time when 
the injury, if any, done by publication would have 
been more than made good even by a return of only 
a small fraction of the price paid. 

On the view here maintained the players’ willing- 
ness to permit the publication of any individual play 
would be decided by the conditions of the moment, 
while their special power of appealing to the Privy 
Council was a reserve force which secured them 
against any general attack, but not from isolated and 
occasional depredations. As regards the Stationers’ 
Company the players held no specially favoured 
position. It is even possible that some of the more 
important members of the Company may have taken 
the official City view that play-acting was a nuisance 
which ought to be abolished. But except that if a 
needy printer were earning his bit of bread by 
pirating a play, he might be a little less likely to be 
also pirating the Grammar and Accidence or the 
Catechism with the ABC^ the magnates of the 
Stationers’ Company had no reason to approve of 
the multiplying of plays by piracy, while they had 
the very strongest reasons for not embroiling them- 
selves with the Privy Councillors who were the 
players’ protectors. 

The defensive position of the players being such 
as we have described, what were the possible attacking 



38 AUTHORS, PLAYERS, AND PIRATES 

forces, and what power did they possess? We have 
seen that owing to the lack of work and the uneven 
distribution of such work as there was, some minor 
printer was always likely to be in difficulties, and as 
we know that these men were ready at such times 
to set the Stationers’ Company at defiance by 
pirating the Grammar and Accidence or the Catechism^ 
) it is not likely that they would be squeamish about 
pirating a play. Before a play could be printed, 
however, the text of it had to be obtained, and after 
it was printed the booklet had to be sold, and neither 
of these necessary steps was easy. Thomas Heywood, 
in a preface written to his Lucrece in 1608, speaks 
of early plays of his' having ‘accidentally come into 
the printers hands and therefore so corrupt and 
mangled (coppied only by the eare) that I haue bin 
as vnable to know them, as ashamed to chalenge 
them,’ and a quarter of a century later in a Prologue 
written for the revival of his If you know not me you 
know nobody, or the Troubles of Queen Elizabeth^ first 
published in 1605, asserts that 

Some by Stenography drew 
The plot: put it in print: (scarce one word trew:) 

Heywood was writing a quarter of a century after 
the publication of the plays in question, and in other 
respects is not a very good witness; but taking his 
statements as they stand we must note, hardly without 

The plays of Heywood which had appeared in print before 
1608 were the two parts of his Edviard IV (1600, F. K. for 
Humfrcy Lownes and John Oxcnbrldge), the two parts of 
If you knoui not we (1605, 1606, for N. Butter), A Woman Killed 
si/ith Kindness (1607, Wm. jaggard, sold by John Hodgets), 
and The Fair Maid of the Exchange (1607, for Henry 
Rocklt). 



IN SHAKESPEARE’S DAY 


39 

surprise, his declaration that the stenographic copy 
came ‘accidentally’ into the printer’s hands, which 
excludes deliberate piracy on the part either of printer 
or shorthand writer. If we must venture a guess as 
to what happened we may remember that at a slightly 
later date manuscript copies of some of Beaumont 
and Fletcher’s plays circulated among lovers of the 
drama, and it is possible that the shorthand copies 
of some of Hey wood’s plays were made by a scrivener 
for this comparatively innocent purpose, and that one 
of these came ‘accidentally’ into the printer’s hands. 
Heywood’s further statement that this was ‘ vnknown 
to me and without any of my direction,’ it will also 
be observed, does not oblige us to believe that the 
company of players to whom he had sold his play 
outright were also ignorant of the transaction and 
unconcerned in it. In any case piracy by stenography 
can hardly, without incredible carelessness on the 
part of the owners of theatres, have been allowed to 
grow into a practice. When once detected it could 
easily be stopped. 

Mr Fleay, when he set himself to explain how 
Romeo and Juliet was pirated, supposed that the text 
in question was the prompter’s copy of an unrevised 
early version, and proceeds; ‘When the revision took 
place this copy would be thrown aside as worthless; 
and any dishonest employe of the theatre could sell 
it to an equally dishonest publisher, who would 
publish it as the play now acted.’ If piracy of plays 
was practically unknown in 1 596 the explanation is 
bibliographically possible, whatever else may be said 
against it. But if piracy were at all a common 
danger can we imagine a prompter throwing aside 
a Complete copy of a play for any dishonest servant 



40 AUTHORS, PLAYERS, AND PIRATES 

to pick up and sell; or, if this might happen once, 
can we believe it to have happened twice? 

Dr Greg hits suggested the possibility that the 
traitor in the case of the Merry JVivei of Windsor 
may have been the actor who played the part of the 
Host, the scenes in which the Host appears being 
more coherently reproduced than the rest. This is 
technically a sound hypothesis, and the danger to 
which it points was more likely to be permanent, 
or recurrent, than those just considered. The ‘hired 
men’ in the Elizabethan theatres were poorly paid, 
and still more poorly esteemed, and if one of them 
made up his mind to add to his earnings in this 
fashion, it might have been some time before detec- 
tion overtook him. If such a treacherous ‘hired man’ 
lighted on a printer such as John Danter when the 
latter was in his worst straits, there was nothing to 
■"prevent the piracy from being completed. Danter 
could hawk the edition among the booksellers with- 
out employing a publisher, and as soon as the copies 
were off his hands his known poverty would make 
it useless to take action against him. Unless he 
entered the book on the Register of the Stationers’ 
Company he could claim no copyright in it, but (as 
we have said) many plays never reached a second 
edition, so Danter saved the sixpence registration 
fee, sacrificed the hope of future profit, and was 
content with his gains on a single edition. Had he 
flown at the higher game, he might have found 
himself cross-examined as to the provenance of his 
copy, and finally have been fobbed off with a con- 
ditional entry, ‘provided that he get lawful license for 
it.’ If the impecunious copy-snatcher were a book- 
seller instead of a printer, he might find himself 



IN SHAKESPEARE’S DAY . 41 

obliged to take this risk as the only means of making 
a profit at all. This seems to have been the case with 
John Busby when he entered The Merry Wives 
of Windsor, on 1 8th January, 1602, and assigned it, 
at the cost of another sixpence, there and then, to 
Arthur Johnson. If Arthur Johnson had declared 
himself unwilling to enter the play himself, or to 
buy the copy before it had been entered, we should 
have a pretty explanation why two sixpences were 
spent instead of one. 

John Busby brought off his coup, owing probably 
to his victims being in an unusually defenceless 
position, of which he was doubtless aware. But in 
the twenty years July, 1590, to June, 1610, over 
1 50 plays were duly brought before the Stationers’ 
Company and entered, and, although here and there 
a pirate may have achieved the maximum success of 
getting a ‘stolne and surreptitious’ copy registered 
as his property, bibliographers may well hesitate to 
believe that such triumphs were frequent until some- 
one propounds an easier way in which they could 
be achieved. Incredulity will be heightened when 
we find that a considerable proportion of these entries 
Come close together, as if the books which they 
represent had been disposed of in batches. Thus in 
the two years July, 1591, to July, 1593, only six 
plays were registered i but in the ten months October, 
1593, ^5945 f'o fewer than twenty-eight. 

In 1595 there were eight entries; in 1596 one; in 
1597 * 59 ^ four; in 1599 two. Then in 

1600 the number rises to twenty-two, and 1601 
produced another eight. 1602 has three; 1603 (a 
plague year) only one; 1604 six; 1605 eleven; 1606 
seven; 1607 as many as seventeen; 1608 a dozen, 



42 AUTHORS, PLAYERS, AND PIRATES 


or if we take the twelvemonth, 22ncl March, 1608, 
to loth March, 1609, seventeen again, after which 
no play was entered for another fifteen months. 
Surely these variations, from one, two or three entries 
of plays in a twelvemonth to seventeen, twenty-two 
or twenty-eight, point to a controlled output, to 
there being years when the supply was rigorously 
held up and other years when they were offered 
to the booksellers in such quantities as could only 
have been produced by the legitimate owners of 
them. We cannot imagine twenty-eight piracies 
having immediately preceded the ten months October, 
1593, to July, 1594, but we can easily imagine that 
the players would have been glad to sell this number 
of plays about that time, because shortly before this 
there had been a similar period, from April to 22nd 
December, 1593, during which the theatres were 
closed because of the plague, and the companies must 
have been very hard hit. In like manner, though the 
coincidence is not quite so strong, the outpouring of 
plays in 1600 and 1601 may be connected with the 
Puritan attacks on the players which resulted in an 
Order in Council on 22nd June of the former year, 
restricting the number of theatres to two, forbidding 
any performances in Lent, and allowing only two 
a week at other times. 


If the large numbers in which plays were put on 
the market in certain years oblige us to presume 
that they were obtained directly from the Companies 
of Players, as the only holders of plays who could 
supply them in this wholesale fashion, it is still part 
of my case that pirates existed and were occasionally 
successful. In the light of recently acquired know- 
ledge it is interesting to note how these casual 



IN SHAKESPEARE’S DAY 


43 

depredations were resisted. Until lately it 'was 
generally assumed that James Roberts was the most 
audacious of the pirates. The assumption was 
curiously hasty, because Roberts was in possession 
of two special privileges, and it was the unprivileged 
men whose financial straits led them to take dangerous 
risks in order to obtain work. One of Roberts’s 
privileges, shared with Richard Watkins, was for 
printing all almanacks and prognostications; the 
other, obtained by marrying the widow of John 
Charlewood, the original grantee, was for printing 
all play bills. This would necessarily bring him into 
close touch with the players, and to suppose that he 
was at the same time openly robbing, or trying to 
rob, them, is unreasonable. Some ground for suspect- 
ing Roberts seemed to be offered by the occurrence 
of the words ‘ Printed by J. Roberts’ on the title-pages 
of editions of T he Merchant of Venice and Midsummer 
Nights Dream bearing the same date ( 1 600) as those 
which he printed respectively for Thomas Heyes and 
Thomas Fisher; but now that (I hope I may say) it 
has been proved that these editions were not printed 
by him and only came into existence nineteen years 
later, there is nothing to hinder us from regarding 
him as an agent for the players, a part very well 
suited to the printer of their bills. When therefore 
we find that on four occasions Roberts entered plays 
on the Stationers’ Register with a proviso that they 
should not be printed until he had produced better 
authority, instead of regarding him as a would-be 
pirate baffled by the exceptional caution of the 
authorities at Stationers’ Hall, we may admit the 
probability that he was entering them in the interest 
of the players in order to postpone their publication 



44 AUTHORS, PLAYERS, AND PIRATES 

till it could not injure the run of the play and to 
make the task of the pirates more difficult^. 

With the entries by Roberts we must mention 
two still more significant ones under the heading 
‘My lord Chamberlens mens plaies Entred.’ The 
first of these is undate'd, and registers A moral of 
clothe hreches and velvet hose^ and an Allarum to 
London^ with side-notes referring to the entries by 
Roberts on 27th and 29th May [i 600] quoted above; 
the second, dated ‘4 Augusti,’ reads: 

As you like yt, a booke 

Henry the ffift, a booke 

Every man in his humour, a booke 1- to be staled. 

The Commedie of muche Adoo about 
nothing, a booke 

Here we have the ‘ Lord Chamberlen’s men ’ them- 
selves taking action with the Stationers’ Company 
direct, despite the fact that they had no status in it, 
to protect their own property. The fact that the 
Stationers permitted them to do this is significant of 
the influence which as the Lord Chamberlain’s 
servants they possessed; the fact that they were driven 
to do it is significant also, for it shows indisputably 
that the danger of piracy was real, and enables us to 
be pretty sure that one or more acts of piracy had 
already been committed. 

1 On 27th July, 1 598, he entered in this way The Merchant of 
Venice^ ‘provided it be not printed without licence first had 
from the Lord Chamberlain’, on zythMay, 1600, ‘A moral of 
Cloth Breeches and Velvet Hose as it is acted by my Lord 
Chamberlain’s servants. . .provided that he is not to put it in 
print without further and better authority,’ and two days later 
The Allarum to London, ‘provided that it be not printed without 
further authority’; lastly, on 7th February, 1603, Troilus and 
Cressida ‘as it is acted by my Lord Chamberlain’s men... 
when he hath gotten sufficient authority for it.’ 



IN SHAKESPEARE’S DAY 


45 

That some of Shakespeire’s plays were pirated wci 
have evidence in a passage from the address in the 
Folio of 1623, ‘To the great Variety of Readers,’ 
which has been quoted, or quoted from, ‘ad nauseam,’ 
but which we must quote once more. ‘ It had bene,’ 
write Heminge and Condell, or whoever held the 
pen for them: 

It had bene a thing, we confesse, worthie to haue bene 
wished, that the Author himselfe had liu’d to haue set 
forth, and ouerseen his owne writings ; But since it hath ‘ 
bin ordain’d otherwise, and he by death departed from that 
right, we pray you do not envie his Friends, the office of 
their care, and paine, to haue collected & publish’d them; 
and so to haue publish’d them, as where (before) you were , 
abus’d with diucrse stolne, and surreptitious copies, 
maimed and deformed by the frauds and stealthes of 
iniurious impostors, that expos’d them: euen those are 
now offer’d to j^our view cur’d, and perfect of their limbes; 
and all the rest, absolute in their numbers, as he concerned 
them. Who, as he was a happie imitator of Nature, was 
a most gentle expresser of it. His mind and hand went 
together: And what he thought, he vttered with that 
easinesse, that wee haue scarse receiued from him a blot 
in his papers. 

Here we have two positive statements (i) that 
purchasers had been ‘abus’d with diuerse stolne and 
surreptitious copies, maimed and deformed by the 
frauds and stealthes of iniurious impostors that 
expos’d them,’ and (2) that ‘even those’ plays were 
now presented ‘cur’d, and perfect of their limbes.’ 
The whole point of the paragraph is that the pirated 
plays had been maimed and deformed in the process, 
and were now cured and perfected. While, therefore, 
it is good evidence of piracy, it only applies to 



46 AUTHORS, PLAYERS, AND PIRATES 

plays of which the Quartos have bad texts and 
the Folio good ones. Now the of which the 
Quarto texts are, by common consent, strikingly 
inferior to those of the First Folio, are; 

Romeo and Juliet. Printed by John Danter, 1597 - 

Henry the Fifth. Printed by Thomas Creede for Tho. 
Millington and John Busby, 1600. 

The Merry Wives of Windsor. Printed by T. C. [i.e. 
Thomas Creede] for Arthur Johnson, 1602. 

Hamlet., Prince of Denmark. Printed for N. L. [i.e. 
Nicholas Ling] and John Trundell, 1603. The 
printer being identifiable as Valentine Sims. 

To which may be added as a bad text, though 
excluded from the First Folio, Pericles, Prince of 
Tyre., printed for Henry Gosson, 1 609. 

Now if we put these five plays as a provisional 
class, marked out as such by the verdicts of Shake- 
speare editors holding every variety of view on the 
subject of piracy, and if we put on the other side 
all the other First Editions in Quarto, including two 
first editions of a different text of Romeo and Juliet, 
and a different text of Hamlet, are there any other 
marked characteristics by which the two groups are 
differentiated? 

In the first place we find, to our comfort, that 
not one of the bad texts was used as a basis for 
printing the play in the h'irst Folio. So that if there 
were no other ‘Stolne and surreptitious’ editions than 
these, the editors of the Folio were as good as their 
word, and had presented ‘Euen those’ plays which 
had originally been pirated ‘cur’d and perfect of their 
limbes.’ 

On the other hand, of the fourteen texts in our 
/other class no fewer than twelve were used as the 



IN SHAKESPEARE’S DAY 47 

basis of the First Folio text, the two exceptions being 
the Second Part of Henry /F, of which the Quarto 
prints an earlier acting version and the Folio a later 
one, and Othello^ of which the Quarto was only 
published in 1622, when the arrangements for the 
First Folio must have been already made. 

In the second place, we note that not one of the 
five plays in what (for convenience and without 
prejudice) we may call the pirated group was entered 
on the Stationers’ Register by its publishers, although' 
Arthur Johnson was clever enough to get a man of^ 
straw to enter the Merry Wives and assign it to 
him on the same day, thus securing the copyright. 

On the other hand, of the fourteen plays in our 
other group no fewer than twelve were duly entered 
before publication on the Stationers’ Register, the 
two exceptions being Romeo an 'dfuUet^ of which an 
edition ‘Newly corrected, augmented, and amended’ 
was published by Cuthbert Burby in 1 599, and Loves 
Labors Lost^ of which an edition ‘Newly corrected 
and augmented’ had been published, also by Burby, 
the previous year. As a licence was only required 
for new books the existence of a previous (pirated) 
edition enabled Burby to save his sixpence in the case 
of Romeo and ’Juliet, and it seems more than probable 
that his similar saving in the case of Loves Labors 
Lost and also the words on the title-page ‘Newly 
corrected and augmented’ are to be explained by 
Danter having published a pirated edition of this also, 
though no trace of it now remains. 

On 22nd January, 1607, both Romeo and Juliet 
and Loves Labors Lost were entered as the copies 
of Nicholas Ling ‘by direccon of a Court and with 
consent of Master Burby in wrytinge.’ Thus all the 



48 AUTHORS, PLAYERS, AND PIRATES 

1 fourteen good texts were eventually entered on the 
I Register. On these grounds it is submitted that an 
' entry in the Stationers’ Register may be taken as 
prima facie evidence that a play was honestly 
purchased from the players to whom it belonged, 
while the absence of an entry or entry and immediate 
transfer, as in the case of the Merry Wives, points 
to a play being printed without the players’ leave, or 
in other words ‘pirated.’ 

In the light of this evidence let us now try to 
reconstruct the story of the publication of Shake- 
speare’s plays in Quarto. On 6th February, 1594, 

> soon after the time that many plays were being sold, 
as we must believe, by the players owing to the 
theatres being closed because of the plague, John 
Danter entered Titus Andronicus for his copy, and 
before the end of the year printed an edition which 
was sold by Edward White and Thomas Millington. 
Whether this should be reckoned a Shakespeare 
Quarto or not, literary critics must decide; but as it 
was printed as his in the Folio of 1623 it comes 
within our survey. In 1597 Danter, who had in 
the intervening three years gone down in the world 
(his press had been seized in 1596), printed a pirated 
edition of Romeo and Juliet, and very probably a 
similarly pirated edition of Loves Labors Lost. 
Finding themselves thus attacked, the players, lest 
more plays should go the same way, sold to Andrew 
Wise the right to print three of Shakespeare’s 
Chronicles, Richard II, Richard Ilfi^nd Henry W, 
Part I. On Danter’s death, or possibly a little earlier 
on his damning himself past redemption by pirating 
the Grammar and Accidence, they gave Cuthbert 
BurJ^, whom we must regard as the first of their 



IN SHAKESPEARE’S DAY 49 

confidential publishers, good texts of Loves Labors 
Lost and Romeo and Jidiet^ which he brought out 
in 1598 and 1599, thereby regaining the copyright. 
About the same time, on 22nd July, 1598, they 
instructed James Roberts, the printer of their play- 
bills, to prevent the piracy of The Merchant of Venice 
by entering it on the Stationers’ Register with the 
proviso ‘that yt bee not printed by the said James 
Robertes or anye other whatsoever without lycence 
first had from the Right honorable the lord 
Chamberlen.’ 

In 1600 the Chamberlain’s men apparently had 
reason to fear piracy, and at the same time, owing 
to the Order in Council of 22nd June restricting 
their performances to two a week, were more inclined 
to sell. They therefore themselves, on 4th August, 
‘stayed’ As you like it, Henry V, and Much ado about 
Nothings o^ to find that Henry V had already been 
pirated by Thomas Millington and John Busby. As 
you like it they prevented from being printed at all, 
but they sold Much Ado to Andrew Wise and William 
Aspley, and with it The second part of Henry IT. 
They also sold the Midsummer Night's Dream to 
Thomas Fisher and sanctioned the Merchant of 
V mice being published by Thomas Heyes, the printing 
of this (and of the Midsummer Night's Dream also) 
being given to their play-bill printer, James Roberts, 
who had previously stayed for them the Merchant 
of Venice, 

In January, 1602, when the Chamberlain’s men 
were still in disgrace for having acted Richard 11 
before the partisans of the Earl of Essex, John Busby 
the elder, who had previously pirated Henry V, suc- 
cessfully repeated the trick in the case of the Merry 


p. 


4 



50 AUTHORS, PLAYERS, AND PIRATES 

Wives of Windsor, entering it on the Register on 
1 8th January, and transferring it on the same day 
to Arthur Johnson. In the following July James 
Roberts entered on the Register The Revenge of 
Hamlet^ and on 7 th February, 1603, Troilus and 
Cressida^ in the latter case with the old proviso ‘to 
print when he hath gotten sufficient aucthority for 
it.’ Roberts never printed Troilus and Cressida at all, 
and probably had no intention of printing Hamlet. 
Printed it was, however, though not (as has been 
believed) by him, but by Valentine Sims, and 
published by N. L. (i.e. Nicholas Ling) and John 
Trundell some time in 1603, or before Lady- Day, 
1 604. In this case the players seem to have condoned 
the attack, and Ling was allowed to publish a revised 
edition, which was printed for him by Roberts, and 
shortly afterwards took over the Shakespeare copy- 
rights which had belonged to Cuthbert Burby. 

After this Shakespeare’s company, now the King’s 
Majesty’s Servants, had some years’ freedom from 
piracy, partly owing to the fact that the censorship 
of plays was now more severe, and before entry in 
the Stationers’ Register they had to be licensed by 
the censor. Sir George Buc. Being in the sunshine 
of the King’s favour, and protected from piratical 
attack, they had no need to sell plays, and withheld 
them from the press much more rigorously. Never- 
theless, on 26th November, King Lear was 

registered for their copy by Nathaniel Butter and 
John Busby in a singularly long and pompous entry, 
and duly printed from a playhouse copy the next year. 
It seems clear that the King’s players consented to 
this, and yet as John Busby (if it was Busby senior 
who entered the play, as seems agreed) had robbed 



IN SHAKESPEARE'S DAY 51 

them twice before, and their policy was clearly 
against printing, it seems improbable that they did 
so willingly. I venture to hazard the suggestion that 
Busby may have been in a position to annoy them by 
reprinting the old play of King Leir (with an ‘i’), 
which Simon Stafford, a printer frequently in trouble, 
had entered and printed when Lear (with an ‘a’) 
was first being acted in 1605. It is interesting to 
note that in the following May (20th May, 1608), 
Roberts being no longer in business, Edward Blount, 
subsequently the publisher of the First Folio, 
registered Pericles and Anthony and Cleopatra^ and 
thereafter showed no more eagerness to publish them 
than Roberts had done in the case of Troilus. 

As it happened, Troilus was the next play to 
appear, being re-entered on 28th January, 1609, to 
Richard Bonion and Henry Walleys and printed the 
same year. It seems not impossible that this edition 
was permitted by the players at Shakespeare’s request 
in continuance of an old feud with George Chapman, 
who was then about to publish the first twelve books 
of his translation of the Iliad. On the other hand, 
despite Blount’s precautionary entry, ‘The late and 
much admired Play called Pericles, Prince of Tyre’ 
was pirated in 1609 by Henry Gosson, a small 
publisher, who dealt chiefly in ballads, broadsides, 
and other popular literature. According to Thomas 
Heywood, it was a little before this that some of his 
plays had been ‘coppied by the eare,’ and had their 
plot drawn by stenography, ‘scarce one word trew,’ 
and Pericles seems to have come into the hands of 
Gosson in some such manner, let us hope ‘acci- 
dentally.’ 

Finally, in 1622 Thomas Walkley thought it 


4—2 



52 PIRATES IN SHAKESPEARE’S DAY 

worth while, and was allowed to print Othello 
separately in Quarto, when the great Folio was 
already in progress, and this brings to a close our 
story. In this we show the players selling plays 
when they cannot act them, attacked by a pirate, 
selling more old plays and trying to safeguard others 
by precautionary entries. Attacked again, when in 
disgrace at Court, they again resort to selling and 
staying. After five years’ immunity we find them, 
in r6o8 and 1609, selling King Lear (perhaps to 
a blackmailer), once more resorting to precautionary 
entries, losing Pericles^ and then regaining control 
of their property, and suffering no more losses. Is 
not this a more probable picture than that which 
represents men like Burby, Roberts, and Blount as 
playing the pirates’ game, and the servants of the 
Lord Chamberlain and of the King’s Majesty himself 
as sitting down tamely under their attacks.? 



53 


THE MANUSCRIPTS 
OF SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS 

I N our last paper we tried to reconstruct, in a 
reasonable and human manner, the story of how 
the Company of Players to which Shakespeare be- 
longed met, as best they could, the successive attempts 
to pirate his plays. We found them after each piracy 
trying to protect certain plays, presumably those 
which they were then acting, by causing them to be 
entered on the Stationers’ Register, so that no pirate 
should be able to obtain the copyright of them. That 
these entries in several instances were not followed • 
by the appearance of an edition seemed to justify us 
in believing that their sole object was to defeat the 
pirates. On the other hand when the company had 
in their possession plays still saleable, but not being 
performed, still more when the theatre was closed 
owing to plague, or the number of performances was 
restricted in deference to Puritan complaints, we held 
that it might have been good business to sell plays 
to the best advantage, more especially if the pirates 
had been busy and there was any uncertainty as to 
what plays they had got hold of. We submitted on 
these lines that the company sold during Elizabeth’s 
reign and the first year of James I eight plays by 
Shakespeare to friendly publishers, and in three other 
cases asserted their rights after a piracy by putting 
out better texts. After their position as the King’s 
servants was secured they were only induced by 
special reasons in each case to permit the publication 



54 the manuscripts OF 

of Lear and Troilus^ and just before the appearance 
of the Folio of 1623 sanctioned a quarto edition of 
Othello. Altogether they handed over to the printers 
' the texts of fourteen plays. We have now to consider, 
from our bibliographical standpoint, what sort of 
texts these were, and what usually happened to a 
playwright’s manuscript from the moment that it 
first left his hand to the time when it was used to 
light a fire or play some mysterious part in baking 
mackerel or lining a pie. 

From the bibliographical standpoint a play of 
Shakespeare’s is not a masterpiece of dramatic poetry, 
but so many sheets of paper with so much writing 
on them, by the aid of which actors had to say their 
words, and subsequently printers had to reproduce 
what the author wrote. After which, if the actors 
continued to say their words and the play was re- 
printed, more or less frequently, the bibliographer 
wants to know with what aids this process went on. 
When we have done our best by piecing together 
evidence from different quarters, and in default of 
evidence by supposing everyone to have taken as 
little trouble and gone to as little expense as possible, 
whatever story we are able to construct will at best 
be the story of an average or normal play, and how 
far it applies accurately to the case of any individual 
play or plays in which we are interested is a matter 
on which there may or may not be specific evidence. 
We must walk humbly in this matter; but it is not 
humility but laziness to give up any attempt to re- 
construct what happened, because the task is difficult 
and we know that we can only attain partial success. 
Every editor of an old text is constantly, whether he 
realizes it or not, making various assumptions as to 



SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS 


55 

what happened in its progress from manuscript to 
print and from one edition to another, and to force 
ourselves to think out the whole process should at 
least give us a keener perception as to whether our 
assumptions are bibliographically possible or im- 
possible. 

A playwright has written a play for the Chamber- 
lain’s men. It will be better not to call the playwright 
Shakespeare before we are obliged, because we so 
often unconsciously assume that Shakespeare must 
always have been regarded as a person of special 
importance and his writings have been in some way 
specially treated, whereas when his plays first began 
to be printed it was apparently not thought worth 
while to put his name on their title-pages. Our 
anonymous playwright then has sold a play to the 
Chamberlain’s men. Was that manuscript likely to 
have been in his own handwriting or a scrivener’s? 
If it had been written for the company which 
Henslowe exploited the scrivener would be ruled 
out by the fact that the playwright, or playwrights, 
would have been paid so little and that, not im- 
probably, by small advances, that they would certainly 
have grudged the scrivener his fee. In the case of 
the Chamberlain’s men, who paid better and attracted 
the best writers, the weightiest objection to the 
scrivener would be the increased chance of piracy. 
If a scrivener were employed to make one copy, he 
might take the opportunity of making two. As it was, 
the players were exposed to some risks; for Greene 
was accused by the author of A Defence of Cony- 
Catching^ 1592 (sig. c 3) of having sold his Orlando 
Furioso for twenty nobles to the Queen’s players, and 
then, when they were in the country, to the Admiral’s 



56 THE MANUSCRIPTS OF 

men for as much more, and Heywood asserts that 
some playwrights reserved a copy to sell to the book- 
sellers behind the players’ becks. However this may 
be, the scrivener would certainly have introduced a 
fresh possibility of loss. 

As a basis for our doubts as to whether dramatists 
as a rule handed their plays to the companies in fair 
copies written for them by scriveners, we are not 
restricted to these d priori arguments. On 13th 
November, 1613, we find the industrious, but ever 
impecunious Daborne writing to Henslowe as to his 
tragedy on Machiavelli: 

You accuse me with the breach of promise: trew it is 
I promysed to bring the last scean, which that you may see 
finished I send you the foul sheet & thefayr I was wrighting, 
as your man can testify, which if great busines had not 
prevented I had this night fynished. . .Howsoever I will 
not fayle to write this fayr and perfit the book, which 
shall not ly on your hands. {Henslowe Papers, ed. W. W. 
Greg, article 89, page 78.) 

Here we see Daborne acting as his own copyist, 
making up the book of the play by instalments, as 
he found time, and sending his rough copy in advance 
when Henslowe grew impatient. It would be interest- 
ing to have this autograph manuscript and see what 
it looks like. Unfortunately it has not been preserved, 
but several plays by other contemporaries of Shake- 
speare have come down to us in their authors’ own 
handwriting, and when we examine some of these 
two very important points come to light: (i) that, 
contrary to what might have been expected, the 
' players were able to obtain the verdict of the Master 
of the Revels as to whether a play might be publicly 
acted, or not, by submitting to him the play as written 



SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS 57 

by the author, or authors, sometimes in pretty rough 
manuscript, and with passages written on slips and 
pasted in; and (ii) that, again contrary to what might 
have been expected, plays endorsed with the licence 
for their public performance might be handed over 
to the prompter, and by him converted into prompt 
copies, without the ‘play-house scrivener,’ if such a 
person existed, being given a chance. 

There are at the British Museum at least three 
plays extant in the autograph of their author or 
authors which also bear the endorsement of the 
Master of the Revels or his Deputy. These are: 

(i) The Book of Sir Thomas Moore, of which 
Anthony Monday acted as the scribe, his manuscript 
probably including the work of other authors, while 
one of the additions is certainly in the hand of 
Dekker, and another almost certainly in that of 
Shakespeare. The signed play by Munday, John d 
Kent and John d Cumber, from which his writing 
in the ‘Moore’ manuscript was identified has part 
of its last leaf torn away, so that an endorsement may 
possibly have been written on this also. 

(ii) Massinger’s Believe as you list (1631). 

(iii) The Lamheinge of the Mary or the Seaman's 
Honest Wife, a curious play in praise of the East 
India Company, by W. M., identified as William 
Mountford, with whose handwriting It agrees. This 
is endorsed by Sir Henry Herbert, 27 June, 1633. 

Another play in the same manuscript (Egerton, 
1994), as the last^. The Lady Mother (confidently 

^ Since the first edition of these Lectures this Egerton 
Manuscript has been made the subject of an important artide 
by Mr F. S. Boas printed in Tie Library (3rd series. Vol. 
yni. 223-239). Mr Boas has shown that the fifteen plays 
it contains were almost certainly brought together by the 



58 THE MANUSCRIPTS OF 

assigned by Mr Arthur Bullen to Glapthorne) is 
endorsed by William Blagrave, Herbert’s deputy, 
1 5th October, 1 635, and appears to have been written 
out by a scrivener and corrected by the author. 

The Book of Sir Thomas Moore has the name of 
an actor, Goodale, substituted for that of the part 
he plays, but the changes required by the licenser 
were so drastic that Dr Greg may well be right in 
believing that the idea of acting the play had to be 
abandoned, and if this is so we must attribute the 
use of Goodale’s name to the author of this section 
of the play rather than to the prompter. Both The 
Lancheinge of the Mary and The Lady Mother are 
certainly prompt copies, and two other manuscript 
plays in the British Museum show clear signs of 
having passed through the hands both of the licenser 
and prompter. One of these, Sir John Barnevelt 
(Add. 18653), attributed to Fletcher and Massinger, 
has a sidenote beginning T like not this,’ signed 
G. B., i.e., Sir George Buc, while the Second Maidens 
Tragedy in Lansdowne 807 owes its title to Buc, and 

younger William Cartwright, actor and bookseller, who in 1635 
was a member of the Revels Company, with which four of the 
plays can be connected by the occurrence in them of the names 
of minor actors instead of those of the characters which they 
represent. Two of these plays, i'dwMnd Ironsides and a version 
of Richard //, Mr Boas attributes on the ground of style to 
1590-1595, and another, Heywood’s The Captives, had been 
acted by the Cockpit company in October, 1624. In the case of 
plays written so many years earlier and which stillheld the stage 
we should hardly expect the prompt-copy to be the original 
manuscript. It will be noted that the Lancheinge of the Mary 
and The Lady Mother, on which author, licenser and prompter 
seem all to have left their mark, were first brought out when the 
younger Cartwright was already a member of the company, 
and so had not had time enough to get worn out and replaced. 
The other plays in the volume have not yet been fully examined. 



SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS 


59 

bears his licence for its representation dated i6ii. 
Both manuscripts were undoubtedly afterwards used 
as prompt copies. 

This being the best light we can obtain as to the 
theatrical custom, have we any special information in 
the case of Shakespeare’s plays.? As we have seen, 
a curious vein of pessimism has caused many scholars, 
especially during the last thirty years, to enlarge the 
reference, in the preface to the First Folio, to 
‘diuerse stolne and surreptitious copies’ from a 
verifiable statement, that even such plays as had been 
maimed in the quartos were presented in sound texts, 
into a general accusation casting the slur of sur- 
reptitiousness on all the quartos indiscriminately. On 
the other hand, save as a peg on which Ben Jonson 
hung a characteristic criticism, very little importance 
seems to be attached to the remarkable statement at 
the end of the same paragraph which, after praise of 
Shakespeare as ‘a happie imitator of Nature’ and 
‘a most gentle expresser of it,’ proceeds ‘His mind 
and hand went together: And what he thought, he 
vttered with that easinesse, that wee haue scarse 
receiued from him a blot on his papers.’ 

The importance of this statement, the justification 
for calling it remarkable, is that, if it has any meaning 
at all, it implies two things; first, that the Folio 
editors, as members of Shakespeare's Company, had 
received from him ‘his papers,’ i.e. autograph manu- 
scripts of at least some of his plays; and secondly, that 
these autograph manuscripts were not ‘fair copies,’ 
such as Daborne and other authors were in the habit 
of delivering, but the text of the plays as he first 
wrote them down. Unless the papers were first 
drafts the claim made on Shakespeare’s behalf on the 



6o THE MANUSCRIPTS OF 

ground of the absence of blots becomes ridiculous. 
The absence of blots from a scrivener’s copy would 
prove nothing at all; therefore the papers must have 
been autograph. The absence of blots from an auto- 
graph ‘fair’ Copy might be instanced as a proof of 
the writer’s neatness, or accuracy, or willingness to 
take trouble, or even his affection for his fellows, and 
so forth; but by no logical gymnastics could it be 
quoted as a basis for the assertion that his mind and 
hand went together and what he thought he uttered 
with this ‘easinesse’ that is held up to admiration. 
Therefore, if the statement is to be allowed any 
meaning, the papers were not fair copies, but the 
i original drafts. 

The address in the First Folio ‘to the great 
Variety of Readers,’ from which we have been 
quoting, is a very tradesmanlike advertisement. The 
book ‘is now publique,’ Heminge and Condell 
write, 

& you wil stand for your priuiledges wee know: to read 
and censure. Do so, but buy it first. That doth best 
commend a Booke, the Stationer saies. Then, how odde 
soeuer your braines be, or your wisedomes, make your 
licence the same, and spare not. Judge your sixe-pen’orth, 
your shillings worth, your five shillings worth at a time, 
or higher, so you rise to the iust rates, and welcome. 
But, what euer you do. Buy. Censure will not driue a 
Trade, or make the Jacke go. 

This is poor enough stuff to offer some justification 
for regarding whatever follows as mere advertise- 
ment, and when we turn to the Dedication ‘to the 
most noble and incomparable paire of Brethren,’ the 
Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, its heavy 
servility may confirm our ill impression. No doubt 



SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS 6i 

a handsome present was expected from the ‘ incom- 
parable paire,’ and the writers were ready to call 
Shakespeare’s plays ‘trifles’ and make ‘humble olfer’ 
of them to the dedicatees in order to get it. ‘We 
haue observed,’ they tell them naively, ‘no man to 
come neere your Lordships but with a kind of 
religious address,’ and customs having changed, their 
attempt to assume this ‘religious’ attitude repels us. 
But with a little sympathy we can understand both 
the advertisement and the obsequiousness, and arrive 
at a juster estimate of Heminge and Condell. The 
First Folio, with nearly a thousand pages of double- 
columned small type was a heavy venture for all con- 
cerned in it, and to obtain influential patronage and 
suggest to well-wishers quips by which they might 
shame the recalcitrant into buying may have seemed 
necessary business precautions. They should not make 
us ' doubt the sincerity of the assurance that the 
editors had taken up their task ‘without ambition 
either of selfe-profit or fame: onely to keepe the 
memory of so worthy a Friend & Fellow aliue, as 
was our Shakespeare.’ There is a ring of real affection 
about this phrase, which makes it incredible that the 
men who used it should on the next page have picked 
out a literary characteristic of Shakespeare’s only to 
lie about it. So when Heminge and CondelF write: 
‘His mind and hand went together: And what he 
thought, he vttered with that easinesse, that we haue 
scarse receiued from him a blot on his papers,’ we 
shall do well to believe that the autograph manu- 

^ Even if it should be proved beyond contradiction that the 
prefatory matter in the First Folio was written not by Heminge 
and Condell, but for them, the argument in this paragraph would 
hardly be affected, as a statement of this kind must surely have 
been inserted from their information. 



62 THE MANUSCRIPTS OF 

scripts of some at least^ of Shakespeare’s plays had 
passed through the hands of Heminge and Condell, 
and that these contained the texts as they were 
first written down in the moment of composi- 
tion. 

On the authority of the editors of the First Folio 
we are thus justified in believing that Shakespeare, 
like Munday and Daborne and Massinger and other 
dramatists, brought his plays to the theatre in his own 
au^raph. Heminge and Condell may onFy have 
seen the manuscripts of the later plays, but if Shake- 
speare avoided the scriveners when he was already 
rich and piracy had greatly abated, it is highly im- 
probable that he employed dvem in his early days 
when the danger from piracy was much greater. In 
the absence of evidence to the contrary in the case 
of any individual play there is thus a bibliographical 

^ It has been pointed out that the title of the First Folio 
(‘Mr William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories & Tragedies. 
Published according to the True Originall Copies’) and still 
more the half-title (‘ The Workes of William Shakespeare, con- 
taining all his Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies : Truefy set 
forth, according to their first Originall) suggest, and were 
probably intended to 8Ug:ge8t, more than this ‘some at least.’ 
It is even argued that since they fraudulently suggest more 
than we can believe to be literally true, therefore all the 
editors’ statements on the subject must be dismissed as un- 
trustworthy. It seems to me equally unsound to press a 
seventeenth century’s editor’s or publisher’s statement, as it 
might be legitimate to press a twentieth century one, so as to 
make it responsible for the extreme limit of what it seems to 
say, and to treat it as meaning nothing at all. Putting aside 
the point that the title and half-title may exhibit Ed. Blount 
liberally interpreting the assurances of Heminge and Condell, 
I think the statements mean that a real effort had been made 
to correct the corruptions of the later quartos and to substitute 
good texts for the pirated ones, and I think that in this sense 
they are true. But they have not the personal note which 
I find in the reference to Shakespeare’s ‘papers.’ 



SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS 63 

presumption that it reached the players in the author’s 
original autograph manuscript. 

But in the case of other plays we have examined 
we find that the original manuscript was taken to 
the Master of the Revels for his consent to its being 
publicly acted, and that when this consent was en- 
dorsed on it the same manuscript was used as a 
, prompt-copy. If this course was followed in the case 
of Shakespeare’s manuscripts our case is complete, 
for there is a considerable body of evidence, which is 
as strong as regards some of Shakespeare’s plays as any 
others, that when a play was printed by anyone except 
a pirate, it was the text of the prompt-copy that was 
set up. The evidence consists in the survival of stage- 
directions of a certain kind, and to explain it we must 
set forth the different sources from which the 
annotations which we lump together under this 
general name, stage-directions, could take their rise. 

In writing out a play, for his own convenience 
as well as that of the players, a dramatist would 
naturally insert exits and entrances, in order to show 
who at any moment was on the stage. He might 
also, though as to this there was no uniformity, 
describe any action with which the player was to 
accompany his words. Possibly in some cases, if he 
were familiar with the theatre, he might use the same 
technical language as a prompter, so that Shakespeare 
himself, in the scene in the wood in the Midsummer 
Night's Dream^ may have written the directions, 
‘Enter a Faerie at one doore and Robin goodfellow 
at another,’ ‘Enter the King of Fairies at one doore, 
with his traine; and the Queen at another with hers,’ 
the ‘doors,’ of course, being those of the stage, not 
of the wood. Moreover, as Mr Greg has pointed 



64 THE MANUSCRIPTS OF 

out with reference to Sir Thomas Moore^ the 
playwright would be almost as likely as the prompter 
to substitute the name of the actor for whom a 
part had been written for that of the part itself. In 
any case, however, when the manuscript reached the 
playhouse the prompter would go over it and insert 
in the margin any further directions needed for the 
performance, more especially as to the provision of 
stage properties or as to music, shouts, knocks, or 
other noises to be made in the room behind the 
stage, which was compendiously indicated by the 
word ‘within.’ For our present purpose, if the 
author’s manuscript became the prompt-copy,whether 
any given direction was made by author or prompter 
is all one. 

When a play was put into print the prompter’s 
, note^ whether written by himself or the author, 
as distinct from the descriptive notes, should in all 
cases have been either omitted or translated into 
descriptive phrases. Fairly often, however, one or 
more in a play is printed in its original form, and 
thus betrays the nature of the copy from which the 
printed text was set up. Thus, in the 1599 Quarto 
of Romeo and ‘Juliet^ although in Act I. Scene iv. 
we get the descriptive note ‘Musick playes and they 
dance,’ later on in the play we get such characteristic 
prompter’s notes as ‘Enter Romeo and Juliet aloft. 
Play Musicke’; or again, ‘Enter Will Kemp’ (the 
-itame of an actor, here substituted for his part), and 
‘Whistle boy.’ So in the Midsummer Night's Dream^ 
besides the directions as to the ‘doors’ at which the 
fairies are to enter in the wood, in III. ii. 85 we 
find the prompter’s reminder to Demetrius, ‘Ly 
down.’ So also in Much Ado about Nothing, we find 



SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS 


65 

the names of the actors Kemp and Cowley, and in 
the Second Part of Henry IF that of Sincklo, sub- 
stituted for the characters they had to play. 

In the plays first printed in the Folio, in those at 
the beginning of each of the three sections Comedies, 
Histories, and Tragedies, the prompter’s notes have 
usually been edited away; but in other plays we find 
several instances of the substitution of actors’ names 
for their parts, and ‘within’ is almost uniformly used 
for anything done behind the scenes, so that in the 
Porter’s speech in Macbeth^ the note ‘knocking 
within’ is applied to Macduff’s knocks on the outer 
gate. Also in the Second Part of Henry Ff III. ii. 
146, the prompter’s note, ‘Bed put forth,’ reveals to 
us the primitive stage management, which thrust 
forth a bed, with Gloucester’s body on it, into the 
middle of the stage, instead of having it ceremoniously 
brought in, according to the directions in modern 
editions, ‘Exit Warwick’ and ‘Re-enter Warwick 
and Others bearing Gloucester’s body on a bed.’ 

If, as has been shown, there is a high probability 
that the prompt-copy of any of Shakespeare’s plays 
would be written in the author’s autograph; and 
if, as has also been shown,, we know that the text of 
many of his plays, both of those printed in Quarto 
and of others which first appeared in the Folio of 
1623, was derived from prompt-copies, we can only 
escape from admitting the probability that some, at 
least of Shakespeare’s plays were set up directly from 
his own manuscript by supposing that now at last 
the scrivener was given a job, and that a scrivener’s 
copy intervened between the printer and Shake- 
speare’s autograph. 

It may be said in support of this supposition that 


p. 


5 



66 THE MANUSCRIPTS OF 

if the players had handed over the actual prompt- 
copy to be printed they would have been left with 
no text of their own save such as could be recon- 
structed from the actors’ parts. But the force of this 
objection is broken by the clear evidence which can 
be produced that copies of authorized Quartos were 
used in the theatre as prompt-copies. Thus, in the 
Folio text of Much Ado about Nothings set up from 
the Quarto of 1600, while the substitution of the 
names of the actors Kemp and Wilson for Dogberry 
and Verges is retained, in Act II. scene iii. we find in 
the stage direction ‘Enter Prince, Leonato, Claudio, 
and Jacke Wilson,’ the name of Wilson, the singing 
man of the company, freshly substituted for that of 
Balthasar, who has to sing ‘Sigh no more, ladies.’ 
In the same way, in the Midsummer Night's Dream, 
for which the reprint of 1619 (dated 1600) was 
used for the Folio, this had clearly been used in the 
theatre, as two new and very obvious prompter’s 
directions have crept in, namely in III. i. 116, 
‘Enter Piramus [i.e. Bottom] with the Asse-head’ 
(where only the prompter, who knew that there was 
only one Ass-head in the playhouse stock of properties, 
would have written ‘the Asse-head’ instead of ‘an 
Ass-head’ as in modern editions), and again in V. i. 
1 34, where the direction for the entry of the clowns 
is preceded by the note ‘Tawyer with a trumpet 
before them.’ 

A Shakespeare Quarto could easily have been 
printed in a month if the printer employed a journey- 
man and a fairly advanced apprentice, so that if the 
players saw the superior convenience of a printed 
prompt-copy, and were not (as we may be sure) 
acting the plays at the time they sold them, no in- 



SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS 67 

convenience would have arisen from their parting 
with their manuscript prompt-copy to the printer. 

Another objection which suggests itself is that the 
players would be bound to keep in their archives the 
manuscript signed by the ‘ Master of the Revels,’ in 
case they should be challenged for departing from 
the text approved. This seems to ignore the easy 
temper ofEnglish officialdom at all periods. A Spanish 
censor must needs have a notary initial every page 
of the manuscript submitted to him. Tilney, or Buc, 
or Herbert were content to write their licence at 
the end of the manuscripts already altered and added 
to, in some cases with slips containing additions 
pasted on to a leaf. By the time a play had been on 
the stage a year or two challenge would become less 
probable, and the fact that it had been licensed for 
printing should have been an ample answer. Even 
that grasping person. Sir Henry Herbert, when asked 
to re-license The Winter's Tale for revival in August, 
1623, on Heminge reporting that the ‘allowed book’ 
(possibly the original manuscript) was missing, but 
giving his word ‘that there was nothing prophane 
added or reformed’ (sic), returned the play without 
a fee. On the other hand, it is intrinsically probable 
that, for obtaining the original licence to print, 
production of the signed manuscript would have been 
helpful even in Elizabeth’s day, while in the next 
century this was probably indispensable. 

On the whole, then, it seems reasonable to believe, 
that in the case of a play printed after having been 
regularly entered in the Stationers’ Register there is 
a high probability that a prompt-copy would be 
supplied to the printer; and there is a further high 
probability that such a prompt-copy would be the 


5—2 



68 THE MANUSCRIPTS OF 

manuscript handed over to the players by the authorj 
and yet a further high probability that this manuscript 
would be in the author’s autograph. The highest 
probability is only a large fraction of a complete 
proof, and when three fractions are multiplied 
together they diminish very rapidly. It would need 
the odds in each case to be as four to one to leave 
us at the end of our three probabilities with anything 
more than an even chance. Perhaps it will be wise 
not to claim more than this even chance that the text 
of any given play reached the printer of the Quarto in 
Shakespeare’s autograph; but in viewof Heminge and 
Condell’s statement as to the receipt of Shakespeare’s 
‘papers,’ the use of other autograph manuscripts for 
prompt-copies, the evidence that quartos of Shake- 
speare’s plays were based on prompt-copies, and the 
occurrence of new traces of the prompter’s hand in 
the First Folio text of plays printed from Quartos, 
there does not seem any reason why we should claim 
less than this. 

It will probably be said that a claim which invites 
the belief that even half of the fourteen regularly 
entered Shakespeare Quartos were set up direct from 
Shakespeare’s autograph manuscripts proves too much, 
because the texts of these first editions contain too 
many mistakes to stand in such immediate contact 
with their source. Not a few of these mistakes would 
be explained if we may believe, as it has been con- 
tended we should, that Shakespeare supplied the 
players not with revised copies, but with treacherously 
clean-looking rough ones. We have yet, moreover, 
to reckon with the Elizabethan printer, and the more 
closely we study the ways of Elizabethan printers, 
when employed on dramatic work, the more highly 



SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS 69 

we shall rate his capacity for introducing any number 
of errors into the text supplied to him. 

It has long been a commonplace among the textual 
critics of Shakespeare that in every Quarto edition 
subsequent to the First new mistakes are introduced, 
so that the text becomes progressively worse. In an 
extreme case, that of a probably hasty reprint of 
Richard II, taking the acceptance or rejection of 
a reading by the Cambridge editors as definitely 
marking it as right or wrong, a second quarto has 
been found to add about 180 per cent, of new errors 
to those originally made, so that it is nearly three 
times as incorrect. The case is exceptional, and it 
must also be remembered that although reprinting a 
reprinted edition is easier, and should therefore give 
a more correct result than printing from manuscript 
copy, as a matter of fact the very easiness of their 
task .often makes compositors and correctors careless. 
It is also possible, or rather certain, that there are 
mistakes in the First Quartos which, because they 
leave the line in which they occur still intelligible, 
no one has suspected. In view, however, of the 
ceaseless stream of new errors poured into the text 
as first printed in every new edition, it is not possible 
to say in the case of an average First Quarto, duly 
entered on the Stationers’ Register, that the blunders 
in it cannot all have been due to the printers, but 
that we must postulate the intervention of one or 
more copyists to share the blame. The proved in- . 
accuracy of the printers suffices to account for all the 
faults. 

We are not entirely dependent on the judgment 
of the Cambridge editors in estimating the blunder- 
making capacity of these printers. As is well known. 



THE MANUSCRIPTS OF 


70 

in several plays of Shakespeare, and of Ben Jonson 
and other authors also, individual pages are found in 
two different states, one with certain errors in them, 
the other with these errors corrected. Where there is 
only one, or perhaps two, readings in question, it is 
possible in some cases that instead of speaking of an 
error and a correction we ought to speak of a right 
reading and a corruption, because it is certain that 
the inking-balls sometimes pulled one or more letters 
out of the forme, and that mistakes were made by 
these being incorrectly replaced. More commonly, 
however, and in some cases quite certainly, we can 
see that the pressmen had begun printing off a page 
before it had been fully corrected, and that on the 
master printer (who in a small printing-house, would 
usually act as his own corrector) coming in, the press 
was stopped and his corrections introduced in all the 
impressions of the page which remained to be pulled. 
Now on different impressions of one page of the first 
quarto of Richard II there are four, and on another 
as many as five, of these uncorrected and corrected 
readings. On B verso a word is omitted, a letter is 
added, and in two cases one word is substituted for 
another. On Bg verso a word and a hyphen are 
omitted, a letter is omitted, one word is substituted 
for another, and two words caught from a previous 
line displace two others. That shows us what an 
Elizabethan compositor could do when his master 
was out. By the Cambridge standard the number of 
detected errors in the First Quarto of Richard II 
is less than one a page. Left to themselves, the 
compositors were capable of multiplying this four- 
fold, and we cannot tell how often this happened. 
That Is a gloomy thought, and we are bound to 



SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS 71 

remember that in the case of these two pages in 
Richard 11 the corrector did come back before the 
impression was completed, and was conscientious 
enough to stop the press to put things right as far as 
he could. But if any one contends that Elizabethan 
compositors could not have made the errors found in 
First Quartos without the help of copyists, it is well 
to bear in mind these instances of his error-making 
capacity. 

We are thus emboldened to persist in our conten- 
tion that in some cases Shakespeare’s own autograph 
of a play may have been the copy supplied to its first 
printer, resting our case now on the four points: 
(i) that the manuscripts ^anded to the players were 
in Shakespeare’s autograph; (ii) that in other cases 
we find an autograph manuscript used as a prompt- 
copy; (iii) that at least some of the First Quartos were 
set up from prompt-copies; (iv) that the proved in- 
accuracy of the printers allows us to assume an ‘ 
original quite as free from faults as an autograph 
copy supplied by Shakespeare was likely to be. 

From the Quartos to the First Folio. 

As regards the period from the first publication of 
a duly registered Quarto to the appearance of a play 
in the Folio of 1623, no editor, as far as I am aware, 
has ever propounded a formal theory that readings 
which appear for the first time in the later Quartos 
are based upon either a fresh consultation of the MS, 
already used, or access to a new one. As will be 
emphasized in our last paper, on ‘ the Improvers of 
Shakespeare,’ editors have concerned themselves un- 
necessarily with the reading of the later Quartos and 
have admitted too many readings from them into their 



THE MANUSCRIPTS OF 


72 

text: but they have done this rather on some muddle- 
headed plea that it all happened a long time ago, that 
the particular circumstances are very obscure, and 
that we must take good where we find it and be 
thankful, than with even the smallest attempt to show 
how any new authority was obtained. If an eighteenth 
century editor had had the courage to say that ‘the 
Printer of the First Edition, fearing that he had not 
done Justice to the Untutored Charm of his Author, 
had kept the original MS. by him in the hope of 
Improving his Performance in another edition,’ some 
one would doubtless have dealt satisfactorily with 
that editor before now. Surely he would have been 
confronted with a conspectus of all the changes 
Introduced into any given second edition, and in the 
utter impossibility of contending that the performance 
as a whole had been improved, that it had not on 
the contrary been in every way worsened and de- 
praved, a confession might have been extracted that 
the later Quartos could have had no other source 
for their most plausible readings than the wits of 
their own printers; for the press-correctors of these 
Quartos did undoubtedly use their wits in correcting 
blunders they found in the first editions, and some- 
times with good success. The causes, however, of the 
great bulk of the variants introduced into the later 
Quartos seem to be those common to all copying and 
more especially the trick of carrying too manv words 
at a time in the head. It has lately been pointed out 
to me by a master-printer that this tendency is 
especially active, and therefore especially dangerous, 
in reprinting from a printed text, in which the eye 
easily takes in a whole line at a glance, whereas the 
setting of the line would be a work of minutes, during 



SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS 


73 

which it would be easy for the memory to play tricks 
with one or more words. Besides these, of course, 
there are the usual transposition of letters, substitution 
of one letter for another, and other errors to which 
careless printers are liable. Not all of the printers 
of Quartos deserve to be stigmatized as carelessj but 
many of them were very careless indeed. 

When we come to the First Folio and begin to 
enquire into its relation with the Quartos, we find 
ourselves confronted with a series of readings which 
at first sight seem decisive against any new manu- 
scripts having been available for improving the text 
of these plays. Anyone can make mistakes when he 
is careless. But when we find old blunders being 
hidden up by commonplace tinkering instead of the 
true reading being restored, it seems a fair inference, 
since the tinkerers were obviously wide awake and 
taking trouble, that the producers of the First Folio 
were driven to tinker because no other course 
was possible, i.e. because they had no independent 
authority at hand by which a real correction could 
be made. 

These cases arise where .the text of a First Quarto 
is sound, but an error has been introduced in the 
second or some later one, and the reading of the First 
Folio is obviously a tinkering of this error. A couple 
of instances of this kind may be quoted from among 
the examples of progressive corruption cited by 
Malone in his admirable preface in 1790. 

In I Henry IF., V. iii. 1 1, Blunt answers the 
threats of Douglas with the words: 

I was not born a yielder, thou proud Scot. 

In the Quarto of 1613 the printer substituted for 



THE MANUSCRIPTS OF 


74 

the three syllables ‘a yielder’ the two syllables ‘to 
yield,’ thus producing the unmetrical line: 

I was not born to yield, thou proud Scot. 

In the First Folio this is mended with absolute 
neatness by the substitution of ‘haughty’ for ‘proud,’ 
the line thus becoming 

I was not born to yield, thou haughty Scot. 

If the Quarto of 1613 had disappeared this reading 
might have held its own, against that of the First 
Quarto, as a genuine alternative obtained from a new 
manuscript. But with the nine-syllabled line already 
in evidence in the Quarto of 1613 we can see that 
the line has been cleverly botched, and that instead 
of suggesting the existence of an alternative manu- 
script, it is strong evidence that no authoritative text 
was available, and therefore botching had to be 
resorted to. 

Again in the first Quarto of Richard III.., I. i. 
63-65, Richard assures Clarence: 

’Tis not the king that sends you to the Tower: 

My lady Grey his wife, Clarence, ’tis she 
That tempers him to this extremity. 

In the last of these lines the later quartos substituted 
the monosyllable ‘ tempts’ for the dissyllable ‘ tempers,’ 
thus reducing it to 

That tempts him to this extremity. 

In the Folio the line is eked out to its proper length 
by the interpolation of an adjective, giving us: 

That tempts him to this harsh extremity. 

With the history of the line before him no one can 
doubt that this is botching or tinkering, and it is a 



SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS 75 

perfectly sound inference that the botcher or tinker 
in question cannot have had easy access to a manu- 
script recording the true reading, or he would not 
have cudgelled his brains with this sorry result. 

We must not, however, underrate the complexity 
of the problem with which we are dealing. 

Where a duly registered quarto had been published, 
the text of the First Folio was usually, though not 
always, set up from the latest edition of this on the 
market, this being of course the easiest and cheapest 
way of supplying the printer with copy. 

But in almost every case the Folio text supplies 
a number of new readings, which, like most other 
things in the world, may be quite accurately classi- 
fied under the three headings good, bad, and 
indifferent. 

By a ‘Good’ reading in this classification is meant 
a reading undoubtedly Shakespeare’s. By a ‘Bad’ 
reading, one that is undoubtedly not Shakespeare’s, 
but either belongs to the class of the Folio readings 
botched up out of the errors of the later Quartos at 
which we have just been looking, or is an obvious 
misprint. Lastly, ‘Indifferent’ readings are those 
which may be a little better aesthetically than their 
alternatives, or a little worse; but which, because 
they make sense and grammar and scan, and crop 
up mostly in what may be called the lower levels of 
Shakespeare’s verse, we cannot treat as impossible, 
while it is equally clear that we cannot treat them 
as possessing any certainty in their own right. If we 
can find ground for believing that the text of any 
play first printed in quarto was revised as a whole by 
the aid of a good manuscript, then for these indifferent 
readings we must follow the text of the Folio. If on 



76 THE MANUSCRIPTS OF 

the other hand no such revision took place, then we 
must print them as they stand in the First Quarto. 

If in the case of a given play we are to suppose 
that a good manuscript existed and was used in im- 
proving the text of the late Quarto, who are we to 
suppose had the manuscript entrusted to him and 
used it for this purpose? 

We may rule out of consideration the person, or 
persons, whom we may think of as exercising the 
general editorship. Their task must have been to get 
together the material, decide what was to be printed 
and what not, settle the order of the plays, and carry 
through two specific bits of work, which required 
special knowledge — the division of the plays into acts 
and scenes and the substitution, where necessary, of 
descriptive notes for the imperatives of the old stage- 
directions. They did not complete either of these 
jobs- — Parts 2 and 3 of King Henry KI seem to have 
been sent to the printer without any general editing 
of this kind whateverj several plays are only divided 
into acts, not into scenes, and imperative stage-direc- 
tions are found sporadically — ^and as the general editors 
obviously could not find time to attend to this 
business, it is impossible to imagine that they had the 
time or the patience to attend to the collation of the 
text. 

It is quite clear that hired aid must have been 
called in and that the work done by these hired 
helpers must have been accepted as final. That is to 
say, if any better text, manuscript or printed, was 
used in preparing that of the late Quarto for the press, 
the hired man corrected a copy of the late Quarto 
by this with as much care and skill as he had to 
bestow, and the copy so corrected became the sole 



SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS 


77 

authority for the new text. Very probably the hired 
man was not engaged for proof-reading; but even if 
he had been, it would have been out of keeping with 
the whole atmosphere which surrounds the publica- 
tion of Shakespeare’s plays, if he had discarded the 
copy for which he himself was responsible, and read 
the proofs with the better authority which he had 
collated. Hence, whether the hired man of our (not 
unreasoned) imagination, or the press-corrector in 
Jaggard’s printing-house had the last word in the 
matter, if a line were faulty in the copy prepared for 
press, the choice would lie between leaving it as it was 
and the gross botching of which instances have been 
given. 

In the case of some plays the question to be solved 
may finally take the form, How far may we reasonably 
push our belief in the incompetence of the collator 
in order to explain a few good readings being intro- 
duced into the Folio text along with a crowd of bad 
ones? Sooner than postulate an inhumanly incom- 
petent collator, it might be well to consider whether 
no source existed from which isolated good readings 
might be derived without.any new manuscript having 
been available. If we can conceive of the prompter 
of the Globe Playhouse making haphazard manu- 
script corrections on his prompt-copy, we may find 
in this a source of exactly the kind we want. There 
is ample evidence (some of it has been quoted) that 
copies of the printed Quartos were used in the Play- 
house as prompt-copies, and that these prompt-copies 
were used in preparing the Folio text, with the result 
that some of their manuscript stage-directions got 
into print. If a prompter could annotate a printed 
quarto with additional stage-directions for his own 



78 THE MANUSCRIPTS OF 

use, there seems no reason why he should not have 
brought the text of his copy into some kind of occa- 
sional conformity with any variations made by the 
actors whom he had to prompt. The actors would 
presumably still have at their disposal the original 
acting-parts. In so far as they had learnt these cor- 
rectly they .would restore true readings which the 
First Quarto had corrupted. In so far as they had 
not learnt their parts correctly they would from im- 
perfect memory make mistakes very similar to those 
made by printers from trying to carry too many words 
at a time in their heads. In the first instance (if the 
prompter was interested) we have an explanation of 
the appearance of two or three good readings in the 
Folio text where nothing else suggests that recourse 
had been had to any new authority. In the second 
instance (again if the prompter was interested) we 
may perhaps find a means for transferring to other 
shoulders some of the blame for the frequent substitu- 
tion of one word for another which now, if we refuse 
to postulate a new manuscript, rests with the printer 
of the Folio. 

If such an hypothesis as has here been sketched 
were accepted, the number of plays first printed in 
Quarto, for which we should have to call in new 
manuscript authority to account for the Folio text, 
would be small indeed. It is, however, no part of the 
bibliographer’s work to poach on literary preserves 
as regards individual plays. Our business is to try to 
think out in terms of pieces of paper what must have 
happened for a reading which can be accepted as 
Shakespeare’s to have got into the printed text, sub- 
sequently to the First Edition. In view of the licence 
which Elizabethan printers allowed themselves, we 



SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS 


79 

must refuse to invoke manuscript authority for any 
changes, right or wrong, which might easily originate 
with the printer — with his common sense or irP- 
genuity, if the changes may be adjudged right, with 
his very conspicuous carelessness if they are wrong. 
In the same spirit of economy we must refuse to 
assume the availability of a manuscript for the 
revision of the whole text of a play, unless adequate 
evidence is forthcoming that the whole text was in 
fact revised. As a way of escape from such extrava- 
gance the alternative has here been proposed of 
haphazard corrections on a printed prompt-copy. But 
it must be constantly borne in mind that different 
plays may have had different fortunes. We are bound 
to suppose that the players as a rule took the cheapest 
and safest course; but it would be rash indeed to 
assume that they did so invariably, and that an 
additional transcript was never made and preserved 
and came in useful in 1623. All we have tried to do 
in this paper is to think out the problem in general 
terms, and trust the application to Shakespeare’s 
editors, who hitherto have left the bibliographical 
side of the problem — the passing from hand to hand 
of pieces of paper — very imperfectly developed. On 
these lines we submit that it is bibliographically 
probable that some of the First Quarto Editions of 
Shakespeare’s plays were printed from the author’s 
own autograph manuscript, which had previously 
been used as a prompt-copy; that the actors replaced 
their manuscript prompt-copy by a copy of the printed 
Quarto, which in its turn received additional stage- 
directions and also readings representing some of the 
variants which were adopted by individual actors; 
that in 1622 a copy of the last Quarto on the market 



8o MSS. OF SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS 

; was sent to the playhouse to be roughly collated with 
the printed prompt-copy; and that the copy so cor- 
rected was the source of the Folio text of a normal 
play originally printed in a duly registered Quarto, 

It may be added that in November, 1915, when 
this paper was read as a Sandars Lecture at Cam- 
bridge, I was applying this theory to the case of 
Shakespeare’s Richard II-, readers of the intro- 
duction to the facsimile of the unique copy of the 
Third Quarto owned by Mr W. A. White, of New 
York [J New Shakespeare Quarto^ London, Quaritch, 
1916), must judge with what success. 



8i 


THE IMPROVERS OF 
SHAKESPEARE 

I N our third paper we tried to establish biblio- 
graphically what was the normal history of the 
text of Elizabethan plays from the time the play- 
wright handed his manuscript to the players; we then 
enquired what special evidence we had in the case of 
Shakespeare’s plays, and finally applied the theories 
we constructed to the history of his text down to 
the publication of the Folio of 1 623. We shall devote 
the first part of this our last paper to three deductions 
of some importance arising out of this survey. 

I. The first of these is that, from our biblio- 
graphical standpoint, the readings of any edition of 
a play of Shakespeare’s subsequent to the First duly 
registered Quarto cannot have any shred of authority, 
unless a reasonably probable case can be made out 
for access having been obtained to a new manuscript, 
or its equivalent. And to construct such a case all 
the variants in the edition must be brought together 
and considered as a whole. 

Editors of Shakespeare, even the best editors of 
Shakespeare, have been too ready to accept or reject 
variants on what they would call ‘their individual 
merits’; and they have yielded, consciously or un- 
consciously, to the illusion that if a first edition 
printed (say) in 1597 ** ^ good authority, a second 
edition printed within a year or two is also an 
authority, though perhaps not quite of equal weight. 

p. 


6 



82 THE IMPROVERS 

« 

A printed text cannot be invested with authority 
merely by an early date on its title-page. The 
authority can only come to it by derivation from the 
original manuscript, and if this derivation is simply 
and solely through a previous printed edition, then 
a reading in the second edition can have no authority 
whatever as against a reading in the flrst^. It may 
be right, as any conjectural emendation may be right; 
but it must be judged as a conjectural emendation, 
and on precisely the same footing as if it had been 
made a week ago. 

The point is so obvious that it seems superfluous 
to labour it, but with the honourable exception of 
Malone, it has been almost uniformly neglected by 
Shakespeare’s editors. 

Theobald arranged his list of the editions known 
to him under the three headings : 

Editions of Authority, 

Editions of Middle Authority, 

Editions of no Authority. 

He did this, doubtless, for the pleasure of making 
his third class, the editions of no authority, consist 

* There is a seeming, though not a real, exception to this 
rule in the case of a reading in a second edition which follows 
a correction introduced into the text of the first edition after 
part of the copies of the sheet in which it occurs had already 
been printed off. Thus in Richard IJ, I. ii. 70, Q® rightly reads 
‘heare’ as against the misprint ‘cheere’ in the British Museum 
(Huth) and Capell copies of Q^, and, it was only after nearly 
half a century of controversy that ‘heare’ was discovered in 
the Huntingdon (Devonshire) copy. If more copies of Q* of 
Richard III are discovered one of them should surely contain 
the missing line and a half (1. i. loi ry.) which at present seem 
to have been introduced for the first time in Q“. It will be noted 
that it is only in cases where the extant copies of a first quarto 
are very few that this curious case can anse. 



OF SHAKESPEARE 


83 

of those of Rowe and Pope. His second class con- 
tained the Third Folio and the Quartos printed 
between 1623 and the Restoration. But how did 
these later quartos acquire the Middle Authority 
which he ascribes to them? In so far as they were 
accurate reprints of the First registered Quarto, if 
every copy of that had been destroyed they might 
have taken its place. But as long as that remains 
they are purely negligible. And this applies with 
almost equal completeness to most of the editions 
included in Theobald’s highest class, as Editions of 
Authority. These comprise all the Quartos, of which 
he knew, printed before 1623, and the First and 
Second Folios. It would be perhaps too much to say 
that a Quarto of 1615 is no better than a Quarto 
of 1655, because the latter will certainly have accu- 
mulated some more errors, and the Quarto of 1 6 1 5, 
moreover, may be of considerable interest in deter- 
mining for a given play the value of the First Folio. 
But as against a reading in a First Quarto, the 
authority which a variant derives from having been 
printed within one year, ten years, or forty years of 
it, is in every case the same, because in every case it 
is nil. 

Just as, so long as a copy of the first edition of a 
good Quarto exists, all the later quarto editions have 
no value for the construction of a text; so, as long 
as a copy of the First Folio remains, the three later 
Folios have no textual importance. In criticizing 
Theobald’s table of editions. Dr Johnson expressed 
this with his usual sturdy common sense; 

In his enumeration of editions (he writes of Theobald) 
he mentions the two first folios as of high, and the third 
folio as of middle authority; but the truth is that the first 


6 — 2 



THE IMPROVERS 


84 


is equivalent to all [the] others, and that the rest only 
deviate from it by the printer’s negligence. Whoever 
has any of the folios has all, excepting those diversities 
which mere reiteration of editions will produce. I collated 
them all at the beginning, but afterwards used only the 
first. 


The importance of the later Quartos printed before 
1623, and of the three later Folios, is purely genea- 
logical. Had none of the later Quartos been preserved, 
we should have been obliged to debit to the First 
Folio as original errors, all the bad readings which it 
took over from the later Quartos. On the one hand. 


the credit of the Folio would have been unjustly 
depreciated; on the other hand, various easy readings 
introduced by the later Quartos would have been 
invested with whatever authority the Folio text for 
the play in which they occur may possess. But 
when once the errors borrowed by the Folio from the 
later Quartos have been eliminated, only the First 
Quartos and the First Folio have any textual value. 


The genealogical importance of the later Folios is 


of much the same kind. It arises from the fact that 


the Fourth Folio being the easiest and cheapest to 
buy and also the most modern in its spelling was the 
copy which Rowe sent to the printer, after he had 
tinkered it at his pleasure. Pope used Rowe’s text 
as his ‘copy’ to print from; Theobald used Pope’s, 
and so on. It may be doubted whether any edition 
of Shakespeare’s works (with the possible exception 
of Capell’s) has ever been wholly printed from 
manuscript. That of 1623 was printed partly from 
manuscript, partly from the printed quartos. Probably 
every subsequent edition has been set up from some 
earlier printed text, some of the misprints in which 



OF SHAKESPEARE 


85 

will almost certainly be carried over into the new 
edition despite editorial care. Many of the readings 
of the Fourth Folio were thus inadvertently adopted 
by Rowe, and the Fourth Folio and its two im- 
mediate predecessors are thus necessary to a right 
understanding of the eighteenth century texts. But 
it must be said again and again that as authorities for 
ascertaining what Shakespeare himself actually wrote, 
no editions can have any shred, jot or tittle of value 
except the First Quartos^ and the First Folio. 

While it is true that the eighteenth century editors 
who started the editorial tradition as to Shakespeare’s 
text had not all the bibliographical data before them, 
nor even a complete set of the First Quartos, their 
tendency to treat all the later Quartos and later 
Folios as in some degree authoritative was due much 
less to ignorance than to their desire to improve their 
text. It is a little lamentable that nowhere can we 
find this standpoint more clearly stated than in the 
words of Edward Capell, to whom Shakesperian 
criticism is so heavily indebted. 

Listen to what he writes in the Introduction to 
his audaciously entitled edition of ‘Mr. William 
Shakespeare his Comedies Histories and Tragedies, 
set out by himself [!] in quarto, or by the Players 
his Fellows in folio, and now faithfully republish’d 
from those Editions, in ten Volumes octavo’: 

It is said a little before, — that we have nothing of his 
in writing; that the printed copies are all that is left to 
guide us; and that those copies are subject to numberless 

^ Of course where there are two texts as in Romeo and Juliet, 
the First Quarto of each counts for whatever it may be worth. 
So also as regards the deposition scene the 1608 edition of 
Richard II counts as a First Quarto. 



86 THE IMPROVERS 

imperfections, but not all in like degree : our first business 
then, was — to examine their merit, and see on which side 
the scale of goodness preponderated, which we have 
generally found, to be on that of the most ancient : It may 
be seen in the Table, what Editions are judg’d to have the 
preference among those plays that were printed singly in 
quarto; and for those plays, the text of those Editions is 
chiefly adher’d to: in all the rest, the first folio is follow’d; 
the text of which is by far the most faultless of the 
Editions in that form; and has also the advantage in three 
quarto plays, in 2 Henry IV, Othello and Richard III. 

Up to this point nothing could be more sound, and 
the service which Capell was rendering, in so far as 
he based his text on the earliest editions instead of 
trusting to collation to eliminate the faults of the 
later ones, was very great. Unhappily he proceeds: 

Had the editions thus follow’d been printed with care- 
fulness, from correct copies, and copies not added to or 
otherwise alter’d after those impressions, there had been 
no occasion for going any further: but this was not at all 
the case, even in the best of them; and it therefore became 
proper and necessary to look into the other old editions, 
and to select from thence whatever improves the Author, 
or contributes to his advancement in perfectness, the point 
in view throughout all this performance: that they do 
improve him was with the editor an argument in their 
favour; and a presumption of genuineness for what is thus 
selected, whether additions or differences of any other 
nature; and the causes of their appearing in some copies 
and being wanting in others, cannot now be discover’d, by 
reason of the time’s distance, and defect of fit materials 
for making the discovery. 

As if to put his method of procedure beyond any 
possibility of doubt, he concludes; 

...Without entering further in this place into the 



OF SHAKESPEARE 


87 

reasonableness or even necessity of so doing, he does for 
the present acknowledge, — that he has everywhere made 
use of such materials as he met with in other old copies, 
which he thought improv’d the editions that are made the 
ground-work of the present text (pp. 21-22). 

Capell’s present critic has a personal reason for being 
moderate in hfe strictures, because (some thirty years 
ago) moved by a laudable desire to win more readers 
for Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales without entering on 
the slippery paths of modernizing, he laboriously 
picked out from the seven texts published by the 
Chaucer Society the spellings easiest to a modern 
reader in every line, and thus produced an edition 
for the spelling of every word of which there was 
early manuscript authority, but which certainly did 
not present the words as Chaucer wrote them. Had 
Capell, in order to popularize Shakespeare without 
committing himself to wholesale tinkering, announced 
that he had accepted the emendations or improve- 
ments proposed by Shakespeare’s contemporaries, and 
those only, it might still have been questioned whether 
what he did was worth doing, but he would not 
have introduced any fundamental confusion into 
editorial ideals. As it was, he did introduce, or at 
least help to perpetuate, confusion, by asserting his 
right to correct original editions by others that were 
merely old, and by the specious suggestion that the 
fact of a new reading being (in editorial eyes) an 
‘improvement’ carried with it a ‘presumption of 
genuineness.’ As bibliographers we must protest that 
it is not mere age, but proof of independent access to 
a source, that gives an edition authority, while with 
any other aim than that of ascertaining what was on 
the sheets of paper which Shakespeare wrote and 



88 THE IMPROVERS 

handed to the players we can have nothing to do, 
unless we find evidence of his personal revision of 
this original text. That is our first point, and it 
brings us into collision with almost every editor of 
Shakespeare, even (although to an exceptionally slight 
extent) with the honoured editors of the Cambridge 
text. 

1 1. The second deduction we have to draw is that, 
although it is probable that the first authorized 
printers of any play by Shakespeare had but scant 
respect for such spelling, punctuation and system of 
emphasis capitals as they found in their copy, yet as 
it requires less mental eflFort to follow copy mechani- 
cally than consciously to vary from it, we are bound 
to believe that in these matters, as well as in the 
words of the text, the first authorized edition of any 
play is likely to be nearer than any other to what the 
author wrote. 

In regard to these matters we cannot, as we should 
like to do, claim that we still have Dr Johnson on 
our side. ‘In restoring the author’s works to their 
integrity,’ wrote the Doctor, ‘I have considered the 
punctuation as wholly in my power; for what could 
be their care of colons and commas, who corrupted 
words and sentences [PJ.’The argument which under- 
lies this charmingly alliterative sentence, which, 
however, with curious ill luck ends with a full stop 
instead of a mark of interrogation — the argument is 
perfectly sound. It is highly probable that such 
punctuation as Shakespeare bestowed on his manu- 
script is less, perhaps much less, faithfully reproduced, 
than his words. But what proportion of Shakespeare’s 
words have we any reason to believe were corrupted 
by his first printers? Even on a pessimistic view 



OF SHAKESPEARE 


89 

certainly not one in a hundred. If his punctuation, 
therefore, were ten times as carelessly reproduced as 
his words, nine out of ten of the stops in a first 
authorized Quarto would be as Shakespeare wrote 
them. As against Dr Johnson this seems a very fair 
argument, though no doubt he would have ‘downed’ 
it more or less successfully. As a matter of fact, we 
have to take into consideration quite another proba- 
bility, the probability that Shakespeare, unless it 
definitely occurred to him that he would like to have 
a speech delivered in a particular way, was himself 
much too rapid a writer to be at all careful about his 
stops. If this is so, his first printers, instead of simply 
following his punctuation faithfully, must often have 
been called upon to supply the lack of it as best they 
could; so that all numerical estimates of their fidelity 
must go by the board. 

If, however, we ask whether there is any reason 
to believe (a) that it did sometimes occur to Shake- 
speare that he would like to have a speech delivered 
in a particular way, (h) that he could and did indicate 
this by punctuation, and (c) that this punctuation, at 
least in some cases, is quite faithfully reproduced, the 
answers we can offer to these questions do not en- 
courage us to acquiesce at all cheerfully in Johnson’s 
assumption that the punctuation of the plays was 
‘wholly in [his] power.’ By Johnson’s day the 
punctuation which we find in Elizabethan books, 
more especially in plays, may be correctly described 
as a lost art. Dr Johnson might do what he pleased 
with colons and commas. He could make them help 
to show how a sentence of Shakespeare’s should be 
parsed; but he could not make them show how it 
would be delivered by a great actor — because that 



THE IMPROVERS 


90 

might have interfered with the parsing. Now, in his 
little book on Shakespearian Punctuation, though his 
method of exposition may not in all respects win 
acceptance, Mr Percy Simjwon has abundantly proved 
that what could not be done in Johnson’s days could 
be done in Shakespeare’s. Everyone interested not 
only in the Elizabethan drama, but in all the outburst 
of poetry from Tottell’s Miscellany to Herrick, should 
buy and study Mr Simpson’s book, which is published 
by the Clarendon Press for five shillings. It is only 
right to say, however, that he had been preceded in 
this field by Mr A. E. Thiselton, who, in a succession 
of separately printed notes to various plays of Shake- 
speare, had paid special attention to their punctuation 
and already discovered a method in what commen- 
tators have accounted the madness of that found 
in the early editions. Both Mr Simpson (to whom I 
owe my own conversion) and Mr Thiselton have 
presented their results mainly in terms of grammar 
and syntax. My own way of restating the facts as 
I understand them, is that in Shakespeare’s day, at 
any rate in poetry and the drama, all the four stops, 
comma, semicolon, colon, and full stop, could be, and 
(on occasion) were, used simply and solely to denote 
pauses of different length irrespective of grammar and 
syntax. On the other hand the normal punctuation 
was much nearer to normal speech than is the case 
with our own, which balances one comma by another 
with a logic intolerable in talk. Thus the punctuation 
we find in the plays omits many stops which modern 
editors insert, and on the other hand inserts others, 
sometimes to mark the rhythm, sometimes to empha- 
size by a preliminary pause the word, or words which 
follow, sometimes for yet other reasons which can 



OF SHAKESPEARE 


91 

hardly be enumerated. The only rule for dealing with 
these supra-grammatical stops, is to read the passage 
as punctuated, and then consider how it is affected 
by the pause at the point indicated. I n the same way, 
if there is no stop where we expect one, or only a 
comma where we should expect a colon or even a 
full stop, we must try how the passage sounds with 
only light stops or none at all, and see what is the 
gain or loss to the dramatic impression. 

As has already been admitted, the punctuation of 
most of the early Quartos, even when the system 
on which it is based is very liberally interpreted at 
the risk of turning faults into sham beauties, is 
inadequate and defective. But two points seem to 
emerge from the study of almost any early Quarto 
we take up. In the first place it seems clear that 
the value of all the stops was greater than at present. 
The comma is often used where we should put a 
semicolon j the semicolon for a colon; the colon for 
a full stop; while a full stop is a very emphatic stop 
indeed. If an Elizabethan printer had been given a 
typical passage of Macaulay to punctuate, he would 
have replaced many of his famous full stops by colons 
and some by commas. In such a case, where each 
sentence was grammatically complete in itself, but 
all were directed to building up by accumulation a 
single effect, an Elizabethan would have regarded all 
the sentences as co-ordinate parts of a whole and 
would have refused (unless rhetoric suggested an 
advantage in seeming to pause between each for a 
reply) to separate them by any stop heavier than a 
colon. Moreover, if it were desired to indicate by 
punctuation the rapidity of invective or earnest 
pleading, commas would have been made to do the 



THE IMPROVERS 


92 

work. A full stop, except when a speech is com- 
pletely finished, always means business — very often 
theatrical business; at the least a change of tone or of 
the person addressed; occasionally, a sob or a caress. 

Our second point is that even when we make 
ample allowance for the greater value of each of the 
four stops,, and for his own carelessness and that of 
the printers, there is good evidence that Shakespeare 
preferred a light to a heavy punctuation. 

‘Speake the speech I pray you as 1 pronounc’d it 
to you, trippingly on the tongue, but if you mouth 
it as many of our Players do, I had as li[ejve the 
towne cryer spoke my lines.’ So Hamlet exhorted 
the players who were to test his uncle’s guilt, and 
so (the punctuation of the early Quartos suggests) 
he may often have exhorted the actors at the Globe. 
In the 1604 Quarto of Hamlet the thirty-three lines 
of the speech that begins ‘To be or not to be,’ are 
punctuated with commas, two semicolons and a colon. 
The full stop only comes before the words: ‘Soft you 
now The faire Ophelia.’ 

In Portia’s famous speech in the Merchant of 
Venice there is a full stop after the plea that mercy 

becomes 

The throned Monarch better then his crowne 
so that the idea may work its full effect before being 
followed by the gloss: ‘His scepter shewes the force 
of temporall power,’ etc. But after this, for thirteen 
lines there is no other full stop until the appeal is 
ended, and with a change of tone the pleader resumes; 

I have spoke thus much 
To mitigate the justice of thy plea, 

Which if thou follow this strict court of Venice 
Must needs give sentence gainst the Merchant here. 



OF SHAKESPEARE 


93 

These particular punctuations are not held up for 
special admiration. It is in no wa)' the business of 
bibliography to decide how Shakespeare’s play should 
be punctuated. But when we find this notably light 
punctuation in editions of several different plays, set 
up by several different printers, it seems a fair biblio- 
graphical deduction that this light punctuation, though 
the printers may have corrupted it grossly, yet reflects 
a light punctuation in their copy, and so, immediately 
or by one or more removes, suggests what was Shake- 
speare’s own habit. 

We can make a similar deduction as regards the 
use of emphasis capitals, which may be taken to have 
indicated a slight exaltation in the tone in which 
the words they prefix were to be pronounced. In the 
early Quartos we find them used for titles of honour 
and respect, for abstract qualities and in metaphors; 
elsewhere only sparingly, and hardly ever in such a 
way as to encourage an actor to tear a passion to 
tatters. Thus in a speech which lies so exposed to 
over-emphasis as that of the Ghost in Hamlet 
beginning; ‘Aye, that incestuous, that adulterate 
beast,’ in the Quarto of 1604 there are only ten 
capitals, and these with two exceptions (Hebona and 
Lazerlike), merely follow the ordinary rules. Thus 
we find capitals assigned to Queen (twice). Crown, 
Uncle, Angel, Glowworm, Orchard and Denmark, 
and these are all, though the speech runs to just fifty 
lines. In the First Folio, on the other hand, there 
are just fifty emphasis capitals, or on an average one 
to every line, among the words emphasised being 
Beast, Traitorous, Lust, Lewdness, Garbage, etc., so 
that if an actor, when thus encouraged, resisted the 
temptation to mouthing, his grace was the greater 



THE IMPROVERS 


94 

Tn the very torrent tempest, and as I may say, 
whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and 
beget a temperance, that may give it smoothness^’ 
Hamlet tells the players, and bibliography may be 
permitted once more to quote this corroboration of 
its deduction that Shakespeare’s manuscript was only 
moderately sprinkled with capitals. 

III. The comparison that has just been made 
between the practice of the Quarto and Folio text of 
Hamlet in this matter of emphasis capitals brings us 
to the last point to be made in these papers, the point 
that, at least for some plays, the F olio must be regarded 
as an edited text, perhaps to about the same extent 
and in much the same manner as the Ellesmere 
manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales deserves 
that character. The Ellesmere scribe had ideas of his 
own on spelling and other matters, and a tendency 
if he did not find a verse smooth to leave it so. We 
have seen how ready someone was to smooth out 
lines in the First Folio. Probably he was doing the 
best thing for the book and its author that at that 
particular moment it was possible to do. Nor is it 
reasonable to be scornful if actors, who were re- 
sponsible for bringing together the copy, took it for 
granted that the acting-versions then in use were the 
best possible, tolerated small verbal changes in the 
text, and thought it good if emphasis-capitals and 
punctuation were in accordance with the dramatic 
customs of their own day, rather than imperfect 
memoranda of Shakespeare’s views. 

How far the editing extended is a question of 
detail, from which the bibliographer must needs hold 
aloof. It has been noted already that the general 
editors of the Folio quickly tired of their task, and 



OF SHAKESPEARE 


95 

perhaps the hired men who we believe to have 
collated and copied at the playhouse and the press- 
corrector in Jaggard’s office may have tired also. It 
is possible also, and if human nature be taken into 
account, even probable, that when the copy arrived in 
manuscript and not in the form of a previously printed 
text, the craving to alter did not make itself felt in so 
severe a form. It could hardly have been otherwise 
than intensely interesting if Dr Aldis Wright, when 
fresh from revising the Cambridge Shakespeare, or 
Dr Howard Furness the elder, when in the full 
swing of work, had been tempted into a discussion as 
to whether the ‘textus receptus’ of the plays printed 
for the first time in the Folio of 1623 better on 
an average, or worse, than in the case of plays of 
which a good Quarto as well as the Folio is available. 

The literary side of editing a bibliographer must 
leave to his betters. Our task has been rescuing 
certain Quartos from most unbibliographical de- 
nunciations. We have quoted one wise and one not- 
so-wise remark from Dr Johnson’s introduction to 
his edition of Shakespeare. . It is amusing to find that 
Johnson in the prospectus which preceded by nine 
years the publication of his text out-heroded Herod 
in the vigour of his language. Here is what he wrote; 

The business of him that republishes an ancient book 
is, to correct what is corrupt, and to explain what is 
obscure. To have a text corrupt in manv places, and in 
many doubtful, is, among the authors that have written 
since the use of types, almost peculiar to Shakespeare. 
Most writers, by publishing their own works, prevent all 
various readings and preclude all conjectural criticism. 
Books indeed are sometimes published after the death of 



THE IMPROVERS 


96 

him who produced them, but they are better secured from 
corruptions than these unfortunate compositions. They 
subsist in a single copy, written or revised by the author; 
and the faults of the printed volume can be only faults 
of one descent. 

But of the works of Shakespeare the condition has been 
far different; he sold them, not to be printed, but to be 
played. They were immediately copied for the actors, and 
multiplied by transcript after transcript, vitiated by the 
blunders of, the penman, or changed by the affectation 
of the player; perhaps enlarged to introduce a jest, or 
mutilated to shorten the representation; and printed at 
last without the concurrence of the author, without the 
consent of the proprietor, from compilations made by 
chance or by stealth out of the separate parts written for 
the theatre; and thus thrust into the world surreptitiously 
and hastily, they suffered another depravation from the 
ignorance and negligence of the printers, as every man 
who knows the state of the press in that age will readily 
conceive. 

It is not easy for invention to bring together so many 
causes concurring to vitiate a text. No other author ever 
gave up his works to fortune and time with so little care; 
no books could be left in hands so likely to injure them, 
as plays frequently acted, yet continued in manuscript; 
no other transcribers were likely to be so little qualified 
for their task, as those who copied for the stage, at a time 
when the lower ranks of the people were universally 
illiterate: no other Editions were made from fragments 
so minutely broken, and so fortuitously re-united; and 
in no other age was the art of printing in such unskilful 
hands. 

It is curious that when Johnson wrote the sentence : 
Tt is not easy for invention to bring together so 
many causes concurring to vitiate a text,’ he should 
not have paused to ask himself how many of his 



OF SHAKESPEARE 


97 

confident statements were based upon any kind of 
evidence and for how many a faculty not very distinct 
from that of invention might be held responsible. The 
theory that the plays must have been ‘multiplied by 
transcript after transcript’ has held the field from 
his day to our own and has not one shred of evidence 
to support it, nothing but an imaginative pessimism 
convinced that this is what must have happened. The 
statement that the plays were ‘fragments minutely 
broken, fortuitously reunited’ printed ‘ from compila- 
tions made by chance, or by stealth out of the separate 
parts written for the theatre’ is on no higher level. 
Indeed it may be questioned whether for once in his 
life the great Doctor did not descend in this passage 
to writing sheer nonsense. That the plays might have 
been ‘compilations made by stealth out of the separate 
parts written for the theatre’ is conceivable, though 
there is no evidence to support it; but that these 
compilations could have been made by chance^ that 
the fragmentary ‘parts’ could have been ''fortuitously 
reunited’ is surely not even conceivable, unless indeed 
the theatrical ‘parts’ of those days were fitted with 
legs and we are to understand that they danced them- 
selves together in some order of their own devising. 

It is only fair to Dr Johnson to remember that 
he wrote this Prospectus before he edited his author, 
and that in his Introduction after nine years’ experience 
he writes nothing in this vein, though it seems clear 
that he pinned his faith with much too absolute 
confidence to the First Folio. The quotation from 
his Prospectus is only given here because it expresses 
with vigorous rhetoric about the worst view of the 
Quartos that even invention can dictate. As a con- 
trast with it we may quote the much saner views 

p. 


7 



THE IMPROVERS 


98 

of Malone in his Introduction to the Shakespeare of 
1790. He there writes: 

Fifteen of Shakespeare’s plays were printed in quarto 
antecedent to the first complete collection of his works, 
which was published by his fellow comedians in 1623. . . 
The players when they mention these copies, represent 
them all as mutilated and imperfect ; but this was merely 
thrown out to give an additional value to their own edition 
and is not strictly true of any but two of the whole 
number; The Merry Wives of Windsor, and King Henry V. 
— With respect to the other thirteen copies, though un- 
doubtedly they were all surreptitious, that is, stolen from 
the playhouse, and printed without the consent of the 
author or the proprietors, they in general are preferable 
to the exhibition of the same plays in the folio; for this 
plain reason, because, instead of printing these plays from 
a manuscript, the editors of the folio, to save labour, or 
from some other motive, printed the greater part of them 
from the very copies which they represented as maimed 
and imperfect, and frequently from a late, instead of the 
earliest, edition; in some instances with additions and 
alterations of their own. Thus therefore the first folio, as 
far as respects the plays above enumerated, labours under 
the disadvantage of being at least a second, and in some 
cases a third, edition of these quartos. I do not, however, 
mean to say, that many valuable corrections of passages 
undoubtedly corrupt in the quartos are not found in the 
folio copy; or that a single line of these plays should be 
printed by a careful editor without a minute examination 
and collation of both copies; but those copies were in 
general the basis on which the folio editors built, and are 
entitled to our particular attention and examination as 
first editions. 

It is well known to those who are conversant -with the 
business of the press, that, (unless when the author corrects 
and revises his own works,) as editions of books are multi- 



OF SHAKESPEARE 99 

plied their errors are multiplied also;.., The various 
readings found in the different impressions of the quarto 
copies are frequently mentioned by the late editors; it is 
obvious from what has been already stated, that the first 
edition of each play is alone of any authority [except, he 
notes, in the case of Romfo and Juliet], and accordingly 
to no other have I paid any attention. All the variations 
in the subsequent quartos were made by accident or 
caprice. Where, however, there are two editions printed 
in the same year, or an undated copy, it is necessary to 
examine each of them, because which of them was first 
cannot be ascertained; and being each printed from a 
manuscript, they carry with them a degree of authority to 
which a reimpression cannot be entitled. Of the tragedy 
of King Lear there are no less than three copies varying 
from each other, printed for the same bookseller, and in 
the same year. Of all the plays of which there are no 
quarto copies extant, the first folio, printed in 1623, is the 
only authentick edition. 

So far Malone, and if we have got beyond him in 
some points, in others, notably in his clear recognition 
that the Quartos ‘were in general the basis on which 
the folio editors built,’ and that (with stated exceptions) 
‘the first edition of each play is alone of any authority 
— ^all the variations in the subsequent Quartos were 
made by accident or caprice’ — he is admirably sound. 

What are the points in which we can claim to 
have got beyond Malone after a century and a 
quarter of further work? Not so many, it must be 
confessed, nor so important, as they should be. One 
or two new Quartos have been discovered, notably 
the Hamlet of 1 603, giving a botched text of the play 
in its earlier form. We also know that there were only 
two early Quartos of King Lear, the belief that there 
were more being due to the co-existence in the first 


7—2 



100 


THE IMPROVERS 


edition of uncorrected and corrected sheets such as 
those in Richard //, mentioned in our third paper. 

So far as editors of Shakespeare are concerned it 
is doubtful whether their improvements on Malone 
can be shown to extend beyond these small points, 
and on the other hand they have hardly kept to his 
canon that only first editions can count as authorities. 
Quite recently, however, the three cases, the Merchant 
of Venice, the Midsummer Night's Dream and King 
Lear, in which the existence of two different editions 
bearing the same date led Malone to suppose that 
each was derived from a separate manuscript, have 
been resolved into three original editions, two of 
1600 and one of 1608, and three reprints, all pro- 
duced in i6ig, and there is no longer any reason to 
believe in their being derived from rival manuscripts. 
It is rather strange that Malone did not make this 
discovery himself. Half a discoverer’s work is done 
for him when the subject for investigation is rigidly 
isolated, and in Malone’s day there must have been 
in existence nearly a dozen nice fat volumes, each 
containing the same nine plays, three of them, viz., 
the Midsummer Night's Dream, Merchant of Venice 
and Sir John Oldcastle^ dated 1600; two others, 
Henry V and King Lear, dated 1608; three, the 
Merry Wives of W indsor, Yorkshire Tragedy and 
Pericles, dated i6ig; and one. The whole Contention 
between the two famous houses of York and Lancaster, 
undated. One after another of these fat little volumes 
got broken up for convenience of sale or handling, 
and now, as far as is known, the only extant 
copy is that bearing the name of Edward Gwynn 
stamped on its cover, which after a long sojourn in 
Germany was brought back to England in 1902, 



OF SHAKESPEARE loi 

sold through Quaritch to Mr Marsden Perry at 
Providence, Rhode Island and passed in 1919 into 
the possession of Mr Folger of New York on the 
basis of a catalogue price of no less than $100,000. 
Chance, however, brought this in 1902, and in 1906 
a similar volume from the Hussey collection, under 
the same pair of eyes, and though the Hussey volume 
was broken up while a wild search was being made 
for a note of the contents of the fellow to it seen four 
years before, suspicion had at last been aroused, and 
the unravelment of the problem became only a 
question of time. Traces of similar volumes were 
found in the Capell collection at Trinity College, in 
the Garrick plays at the British Museum and else- 
where, and a first hypothesis was formed, that the 
plays with the earlier dates, four of them duplicating 
another edition of the same year, had sold badly and 
in 1619 were being made up into a volume with 
those printed in that year, as a kind of ‘remainder.’ 
Then Dr W. W, Greg made a spring at the true 
explanation, that the plays were all printed together 
in 1619, and proceeded to prove it by the very pretty, 
but very intricate evidence of the water-marks. After 
this the quarry was in full view and it was easy to 
hunt it down by a variety of proofs, the coup de grace 
being given by an American student, Mr William 
Neidig, who showed photographically that the types 
used for the words ‘Written by W. Shakespeare,’ 
which occur on the three title-pages dated 1619, and 
also on that of the Merchant of Venice dated 1 600, 
had remained untouched in the forme while all four 
titles were being printed — ^which could hardly have 
happened if they were separated by an interval of 
nineteen years. 



102 


THE IMPROVERS 


The most lenient explanation of the five false dates 
assumes an original intention to prefix a general title- 
page to the collection, there being other instances 
of the short imprints and dates of first editions being 
placed on the separate title-pages of a volume of 
reprints by way of acknowledgement of the source 
and ownership of the text. The matter is complicated, 
however, by an apparent desire to establish a claim 
to two copyrights, those of the Merchant of Venice 
and Midsummer Nighds Dream, which may have 
seemed to be derelict. For our present purpose, how- 
ever, it suffices to note that the controversies as to 
which of the rival editions of these plays and of King 
Lear should be considered the earlier have been 
decisively settled in favour of those bearing the fuller 
imprints, and that it will be almost impossible for 
any future editor to maintain, as has hitherto been 
the fashion, that the falsely dated editions were printed 
from separate manuscripts. It seems quite clear that 
they must have been reprinted from the correctly 
dated First Editions, and that the variants in the text 
all originated in the printing-house. 

The second point in which we claim to have 
improved on Malone is as to the interpretation to be 
placed on the oft-quoted words: 
where (before) you were abus’d with diucrse stolne and 
surreptitious copies, maimed and deformed by the frauds 
and stealthes of iniurious impostors, that expos’d them: 
euen those, are now offer’d to your view cur’d and perfect 
of their limbes. 

Malone, though he distinguished between the bad 
Quartos, such as those of the Merry Wives of Windsor 
and King Henry V, the texts of which were entirely 
rejected by the editors of the Folio, and the good 



OF SHAKESPEARE 


103 

Quartos, which the Folio editors, either (as he sup- 
poses) ‘to save labour or from some other motive,' 
used as their text in reprinting the plays, nevertheless 
says categorically; 

Undoubtedly they were all surreptitious, that is stolen 
from the playhouse, and printed without the consent of 
the author or the proprietors. 

It is confidently submitted that this assertion need- 
lessly extends and enlarges the statement of the editors 
of the Folio, at the cost of making them decry their 
own property and tell foolish and gratuitous lies. 

There is some slight ambiguity about the exact 
meaning of the word ‘where’ in the Preface to the 
First Folio. It is at least possible that it should be 
construed as equivalent to ‘in those cases in which,’ 
‘where before you were abus’d’ — ‘in those cases in 
which yon were abus’d’ — ‘with diuerse stolne and 
surreptitious copies, even those are now offer’d to 
your view cur’d.’ It is more probable, however, that 
It should be taken as meaning ‘whereas’ — whereas 
before you were abused, even tho.se copies are now 
set right. Adopting thisas the meaning less favourable 
to our case, may we not reasonably ask whether, if 
the players had intended to affix the charge of sur- 
reptitiousness on all the Quartos, they would have 
been content with so guarded a statement? Divers 
stolen and surreptitious copies had been issued — the 
first Romeo and Juliet, Henry f’, the Merry Wives, 
the first Hamlet, probably a first Loves Labors Lost, 
which has not come down to us. All these editions 
had been rejected by the Folio editors, who had 
replaced them by good texts, and could therefore, 
.without reference to any other texts, truthfully say — 
‘even those are now offer’d to your view cur’d and 
perfect of their limbes.’ 



104 IMPROVERS OF SHAKESPEARE 

It is possible, of course, that when they mentioned 
‘diuerse copies’ the Folio editors intended their 
readers to add the mental comment ‘to wit, all the 
seventeen plays that have hitherto been printed.’ But 
if they wanted this to be understood, why did they 
not say so? They had plenty of picturesque language 
at their command ! Why should we make the words 
‘diuerse copies’ apply to any except the plays which 
the Folio editors rejected, which bear their own 
evidence of a disreputable origin, and were never 
regularly entered on the Stationers’ Register? Why 
should we extend it to the plays which the Folio 
editors were actually using as the source of their 
text, and of which in some cases the copyrights were 
at that moment vested in some of the publishers of 
the Folio? 

It has been the object of these papers to show that 
the Quartos regularly entered on the Registers of 
the Stationers’ Company were neither stolen nor 
surreptitious. I have gone further than this by 
bringing together some little evidence that some at 
least of these editions may have been set up from 
Shakespeare’s autograph manuscript, and have further 
dangled before my readers the hope that in some of 
these much vilified texts there may yet survive 
evidence of how Shakespeare meant some of his great 
speeches to be delivered. This is as far as bibliography 
can take us. The literary critics must be allowed their 
rights. But if, overstepping these, they raise the 
foolish old cry, ‘all stolne and surreptitious,’ I hope 
in future they will be received with the answering 
whoop, ‘Printed from the author’s autograph,’ for 
which there is at least as much justification as the 
other, and I venture to think a good deal more. 



INDEX 


ABC and Cattchism in English, privilege for, i6, i8, 38 
Actors’ names substituted for characters, 64 sqq. 

Actors, Peter, King’s Stationer, 19 
Adams, Richard, fined, zi 
Almanacs, monopoly for printing, 16 

Arber, Dr, views as to formation of Stationers’ Company, 
10 sqq. 

Ass-head, stage property in Midsummer Night’s Dream, 66 
Authors, payment of in Shakespeare’s day, 18 sf., 24 s;., 
26 sqq. 

Barker, Christopher, on grant of Charter to Stationers, 10; 

his monopoly for Bible-printing, t6 
Barwick, G. F., on restrictions on Spanish printing, 1 1 
Bible-printing, monopoly in, i6sy. 

Birrell, Augustine, bis Seven Lectures on Copyright quoted, 
5 note 

Blount, E., employed to block piracies of Shakespeare’s plays, 
5 ' 

Boas, F. S., on the plays in EgertonMS. 1994, 57 note 
Book-licences, how granted, zi sqq. 

Book-trade, regulation in the sixteenth century, 1-25 
Buc, Sir George, his endorsements on plays, 58, 67 
Burby, Cuthbert, an authorised publisher of Shakespehre’s 
plays, 48 sqq. 

Busby, J.. pirates Shakespeare’s plays, 41, 49 sq. 

Capell, E., his readiness to accept unauthoritative readings 
which ’improve’ Shakespeare’s text, i6 sqq.-, his copy of 
the volume of 1619, ix 

Capitals, use of for emphasis in Shakespeare Quartos and First 
Folio, 97 sq. 

Catechism m English, Day’s monopoly for printing, 16, 18, 38 
Caxton, W., not attacked by book-pirates, 1 sq. 

Chamberlain’s Men, 36, 44, 49 sqq., 55 .sq. 

Chaucer, G., his works published at joint risk of four stationers, 



io6 INDEX 

20; old or modern spellings in, 87; Ellesmere MS. compared 
with First Folio, 94 

Clergy, Elizabethan, payment of, 24 sj. 

Complutensian Polyglot, issue delayed by privilege for Erasmus’s 
Greek Testament, 3 

Copyright, early history of in England, 1-34 
Curll, Edmund, his literary piracies, 28, 33 

Daborne, W., dramatist, made his own fair copies, 56; but 
Poore Man’s Comfort, attributed to him, not in his auto- 
graph, 59 

Danter, John, driven to literary piracy by need, 40, 48 sq. 

Dating of books, ordered by Henry VIII, 7 

Day, John, monopoly in A B C and Catrchtsm in English, 16; 

a Stringer, 20; fined by Stationers’ Company, 21 
Dryden, John, his literary earnings prior to the first Copyright 
Act. 33 

Edward VI, his proclamation on printing, 8 
Elizabeth, Queen, policy as to printing, \l sqq.-, unrewarded 
dedication to, 27 

Erasmus, D., his Greek Testament ‘privileged,’ 3 
Faques, W., King’s printer, 19 

First Folio of Shakespeare’s Plays, instances of guesswork in, 
73 sy. ; its good readings sometimes not derived from new 
MS., but from prompter’s corrections on printed prompt 
copy, 79 ry.; the only one of the Four Folios of any im- 
portance, 83 jy. ; yet itself an ‘edited’ text, 9459. 

Fleay, F. G., his strange theory how Romeo and Juliet was 
pirated, 39 

Fulke, Dr, payment for his confutation of the Rhemish Testa- 
ment, 24 

Garrick, D., his copy of the volume of 1619, lx 
Glapthorne, H., his play The Lady Mother, 58 
Goodale, T., his name in play of Str Thomas More, 58 
Googe, B., publication of his Eglogs and Epytaphes, 29 sq. 
Grafton, R., privileges for service books, 16; a Grocer, 20 
Greg, W. W., his theory how the Merry Wives of Windsor was 
pirated, 39; on Ant. Monday’s handwriting, 59; his proof 
of false dates in Shakespeare Quartos, ix sq., loi 



INDEX 


107 


Gwynn, Edward, his copy of the volume of 1619, viii 
Hall, W., dealer in literary MSS., 31 

Hamlet’s advice to the players, applicable to punctuation and 
capitals in Shakespeare’s text, 93 sq. 

Heming and Condell, their editorial statements on the First 
Folio, 6osqq. 

Henry VIII, proclamations about printing, 5 sqq. 

Henslowe, P., dealings with Daborne, 56 
Herbert, Sir Henry, licenses Laneheinge of the Mary, 57; 
remits fee, 67 

Heyes, Tho. and Laur., copyright in the Merchant of Venice, 
xii note 

Heywood, T., his evidence as to piracy of plays, 38; his play 
TAe Captives, 58 note 

‘Hired men’ in theatres possible pirates, 40 
Horman, W., his Vulgarta privileged, 3 
Huth, Alfred, On the Supposed False Dates in certain Shake- 
speare Quartos, x 

Injunctions, Elizabethan, fifty-first on printing, 13 sq., 16 

Jaggard, Wm., on the watermarks in the volume of 1619, xii 
James I, his example may have weakened fashionable prejudice 
against publication, 34 

Johnson, S., views on construction of Shakespeare’s text, 83; 
scorns punctuation of the early Quartos, 89 sq.; extravagant 
depreciation of the Quarto texts, 95 sqq. 

Jugge, R., Bible printing secured to, by Archbishop Parker, 16 

King Lear, circumstances of its publication, 51 sq., 99 sq. 

Lambe, Sir J., his note as to book-licensing, 22 
Laneheinge of the Mary, its autograph endorsed by licenser, 57 
Lant, R., imprisoned by Stationers’ Company, zt 
Licensing of books, 21 sqq.; of plays, endorsed on author’sMS. 

57 sq-, 67 . , 

Loves Labors Lost, a pirated edition probably lost, 47 

Machlinia, W. dc, reprints Caxton’s Chronicles of England, 2, 4 
Malone, Edmund, his estimate of the Shakespeare First Quartos, 
98 sqq. 



io8 INDEX 

Marshe, Thomas, held monopoly for printing Latin school- 
books, l6 

Mary, Queen, policy as to printing, 8 sqq. 

Massinger, P., extant MS. of his Believe as you List, in his 
autograph, 57, 62 

Mayors, books printed in a town to be deposited with, 7 
Merchant of Ventre, falsely dated edition, 43, 100 sqq. 
Midsummer Night’s Dream, falsely dated edition, 43, too sqq.; 

contains a revised text, xxv 
Millar V. Taylor, copyright case quoted, 4 note 
Milton, John, contract for payment for Paradise Lost prior 
to the first Copyright Act, 33 
Mountford, William, his Lancheinge oj the Mary, 57 
Munday, Anthony, plays in his autograph, 57 

Naahe, T., dedication to The Terrors of the Night, quoted, 32 
Neidig, W., photographic proof of false dates in Shakespeare 
Quartos, xl sq., loi 

Pace, Richard, privilege granted in 1518 for his sermon on 
Peace, 3 

Pamphlet, payment for writing in Shakespeare’s day, 24, 36 
Parker, Archbishop, kept Bible-printing in Jugge’s hand, 16 
Patronage, effect of on author’s earnings, 27 sq. 

Pembroke and Montgomery, Earls of, servility of dedication 
of First Folio to, 60 

Percy, W., publication of his Sonnets to Coelta^ 30 
Perry, Marsden, purchaser of the only unbroken copy of the 
i6ig volume of Shakespeare Quartos, icu 
Piratical printing, precautions against, 23 ; extent of in Shake- 
speare’s day, 32 sqq. 

Place of printing, ordered by Henry VIII to be stated in 
books, 8 

Plays, Elirabethan payments for, 36; selling value, 37; possible 
methods of pirating, •^<)sqq.; entry on Stationers’ Register 
frima facie evidence of authenticity, 48; of Shakespeare’s 
time, extant in author’s autograph, 57 sq. 

Pope, A., his shifts to get his letters printed, 28 
Printers, when first admitted to the Stationers’ Company, 20 
Printing, subjection to Government control, 5 sqq. ; avoided 
by fashionable Elizabethans, 27-33 
Priuilegium ad imprimendum solum, meaning of phrase, 6 sq. 



INDEX 


109 

Privileges for book-printing, 2-4; for exclusive rights in classes 
of books, 16 sq. 

Privy Council, its control of printing, 8, 13, 17 sqq., 34; its 
relation to the players, 35 sqq. 

Proclamations on printing, 5 sqq. 

Prohibited books, English lists of, ; 

Prompt-copies, author’s autograph used for, subsequently 
printed, 64 sqq. 

Prompter’s notes, survival of, in printed texts, 64 sqq. 

Provinces, printing in the, 13 

Punctuation in first Quartos of Shakespeare’s plays may be 
authoritative, xix sqq., 91 sqq. 

Pynson, R., privilege granted to hooks printed by, 3 ; whether 
a stationer, 19; his assessment, 20 

Quartos of Shakespeare’s plays, used as prompt-copies and 
subsequently for First Folio, 66 jy.; the blunders in them, 

69 sqq . ; corrected and uncorrected sheets in same edition, 

70 sq . ; no fresh MS. consulted for later Quartos, 72 sq . ; 
the First Quartos alone authoritative, 83 sqq.-, may retain 
some of Shakespeare’s own punctuation, Sqsyy.; Malone’s 
estimate of them only marred by repetition of charge of 
surreptitiousness, 98-102; the false dates in the 1619 
reprints, 100 sqq. -, the charge of surreptitiousness reckless, 
103 sqq. 

Reformation, effect of in subjecting printing to control, 5, 23 

Richard II, badness of Second Quarto, 69; variations in 
copy of First Quarto, 70, 82 note 

Roberts, James, enters plays on Stationers’ Register to defeat 
pirates, xili, 43 sq. 

Robinson, R., his literary earnings, 24, 27 

Romeo and Juliet, Fleay’s theory as to its piracy, 39 

Schoolmasters, Elizabethan, payments of, 24 sq. 

Scriveners, Nashe’s grudge at their profits, 32 

Secret presses, fewness of, under Elizabeth, ij 

Shakespeare, W., only two of his sonnets pirated during 15 
years, 31; the attempts to pirate his plays, 39-52; the 
transmission of his text from manuscript to Quartos and 
Folio, 53-80; treatment of, by editors, 81-102 

Sidney, Sir Henry and Philip, gift for a dedication, 27 



no INDEX 

Simpson, Percy, liis treatise on Shakespearian punctuation, 

XV, 90 

Sir Thomas More, play of, Shakespeare’s hand in, xxui, 58 
Spain, restrictions on printing in, 1 1 
Stage-directions, two kinds of, 63 sgq. 

Star Chamber, its limitation of presses partly directed to 
securing a livelihood for existing printers, 17 sq., 34 
Stationers, wealthier than early printers, 20 
Stationers’ Company, grant of charter to, 9 sqq . ; its early 
history, 19-25 

Stationers’ Register, method of entering books on, 21-23; 

entry frima facie evidence of authority, 48 sqq., 104 
Stenography, used in pirating plays, 38 

Taverner, J., stationer, his wealth, 20 
Tawyer with a trumpet, in stage-directions, 66 
Theobald, L., appraisal of editions of Shakespeare, 82 sqq. 
Thiselton, A. E,, a pioneer in explaining Shakespearian 
punctuation, 90 

Thorpe, T., dealer in literary MSS., 31 sq. 

Tottell, R., his privilege for law-books, 16 sq. 

Troilus and Cressida, circumstances of its publication, 50 sqq. 

Venice, privileges for books first given at, 2 

Ward, R,, attacks privileged printers, 17 
Watkins, R., monopoly in English almanacs, 16 
Whitchurch, E., privileges for service books, 16; a haberdasher, 
20 

Wilson, J, Dover, on ‘the Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet’ 
in Midsummer Night’s Dream, xxv 
Wilson, Jack, his name in stage directions, 66 
Wither, George, his charges against the Stationers, 25, 33 
‘Within,’ use of, in stage directions, 65 
Wolfe, John, attacks privileged printers, 17 



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